Thank you to Jennie for inviting me to the Facebook event National Take a Photograph of a Police Officer Day
Now why would you want to do this? Well, I hadn't realised, but one of the provisions of the Government's counter terrorism bill could mean that if you are caught taking a photo of a police officer come 16 February, you could find yourself in big trouble. In fact you could end up being sent to prison for up to 10 years for taking photographs of people "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism." That sounds like a pretty woolly definition that could mean anything it wants to be. Frankly I wouldn't like to spend years rotting in jail while some kind civil liberties charity takes my case to the European Court of Human Rights.
There is a sense of irony in all of this, though. A few weeks ago, I was walking very innocently down the street, with only peaceful intent in my mind, and I could barely move for being photgraphed by the Police. They snapped me from high up on buildings and from their mobile camera vans. It was like being followed around by a black and white clad paparazzi. God knows what they are doing with the results of their gross intrusion into my privacy. No doubt I'm on some database somewhere with my card marked....
CCTV has its place, though. People in North Queensferry are delighted it's going to be fitted under the rail bridge to try to stamp out issues there.
But in terms of peaceful protest - ie during the march for Gaza - then I really don't know what the police are doing with the film. And in any case, I suspect our cards are marked already...
But this is a law which could end you up in prison for taking a photo of a police officer - what if you took a photo of them doing something they shouldn't? Isn't it important that people have the right to do that, otherwise we would never have known about Rodney King, for example?
CCTV is a slightly different issue because it can help - but often just moves the problem somewhere else...
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