It’s cast iron proof that we need to be extremely careful about what powers we give the police. They keep insisting they need to lock people up without charge for 42 days, that the DNA profiles of people unconvicted of or innocent of a crime should be retained for years, despite it already having been proven that there’s no advantage in doing so, even that photographing police officers should be a crime. And all the while they keep protesting that you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, that these powers won’t be misused or abused, yet Bob Patefield’s video shows the exact opposite – multiple police officers flagrantly abusing their authority because of legislation which allows them to. It couldn’t be simpler.
Of course these police officers could have spent time looking for pickpockets, for muggers, for violent drunks or wife beaters, but why should they when they have the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Police Reform Act covering their backs? Are they reacting to a moral panic which only the police seem bothered about? Did all police at some point decide that photographers were either terrorists or paedophiles, and needed to be stopped? This wasn’t after all one of the high profile stops in London a couple of months ago – it was in the north of England. Perhaps it was just a case of how the police operate when they have laws which allow them to abuse the innocent.
It was heartening to attend the Mass Photo Gathering in January, organised by I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist, which demonstrated just how angry and fed up people are by this abuse, but it’s certainly not ended. The police’s insistence on extra or additional powers can’t ever be taken at face value; there has to be a proportionate need for them. After all how often do terrorists use DSLRs to scout targets which can be seen clearly on Google Street View? And how many amateur photographers really go around being ‘anti-social’? Good grief.
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