The ability to take photos in public spaces is one of those things that most folks take for granted, particularly in democratic countries. Sure, taking pictures in front of the federal building in NYC has gotten me harassed more than once, but eventually the rent-a-cops all conceded that I was well within my rights. Turns out that the British government has codified such harassment, stating that:
Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.
It is for the local Chief Constable, in the case of your letter the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force, to decide how his or her Officers and employees should best balance the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection.
In other words, you’re free to take photos as much as you want, but we’re free to harass you for doing so. This seems to be another in a long line of actions by the governments of “free” nations to limit the freedoms of their citizens, all in the name of “safety” while not actually providing any real value to the public. I suppose I’ll find out just how bad things are when I’m in the UK in a couple months; I certainly know that I won’t be stopping my photography just because a cop tries to intimidate me.
Also covered here.
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I was sure we were going to get stopped for all of the photos we were taking in NYC. (The UN, in particular!)
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