Completely ignoring the guidance given by Chief Constable Andrew Trotter ( Head of ACPO Media Advisory Group ) the police are now running a campaign encouraging the public to report photographers and “let experienced officers decide what action to take”.
Experienced officers? Like the experienced officers who arrested a guy taking picture of Christmas celebrations in Accrington? Like the experienced officers at the G20 summit who beat Ian Tomlinson?
Older readers may remember the IRA campaign of bombing in the UK in the 80s. The IRA were far more successful in bombing England than the current batch of islamists yet the police then did not resort to inducing paranoia in the population and encouraging us all to fear and spy on each other.
The truth is that the natural inclination of anyone who joins an organisation such as the police force will be to govern human behaviour by restricting everything and then allowing action by exception. That is not in accord with democratic values. Democracy requires that everything is allowed unless it is specifically proscribed.
The trouble with this police campaign is it ramps up the pressure. The police claim they will only use power to counter terrorism but we already have evidence that police are using all sorts of excuses to harrass photographers from anti-social behaviour to suspected pedophilia. Those given powers over others always abuse those powers. It’s a rule.
As yet the United Kingdom is not a police state and we do not restrict public photography. We should not allow ourselves to be frightened into giving the police authoritarian powers. Slippery slope and all that.