A UK professional photographers’ group has hit back at the Metropolitan Police’s fear-mongering campaign against photographers. But at least the ‘togs have a sense of humour.
In classic Orwellian fashion, the Met’s ad campaign (which I wrote about in Pump up the paranoia) incites the general public to watch itself. It promotes suspicion and fear. Its headline, “Thousands of people take photographs every day. What if one of them seems odd?” seems calculated to appeal to that fraction of society that likes to appoint itself the guardian and judge of the rest.
It continues: “Terrorists use surveillance to help plan attacks, taking photographs and making notes about security measures like the location of CCTV cameras. If you see someone doing that, we need to know. Let experienced officers decide what action to take.” And it ends: “Terrorism. If you suspect it, report it.” The likely result of the paranoia this kind of campaign generates is the suppression of the press. News photographers already have a hard time doing their job without every gullible nerk thinking there’s an RPG inside that long lens.
But photographers and terrorists are not the only groups capable of dubious behaviour.
[photopress:EPUK_poster.jpg,full,alignright]The Editorial Photographers UK (EPUK) group maintains a website with information and news for photographers as well as a private mailing list. It’s an invaluable resource for documentary and reportage shooters, providing advice, guidance and support, often in a more timely and effective way than any formal industry body.
Now. in association with the National Union of Journalists and the British Press Photographers Association, it has responded to the Met’s shameful behaviour. Its own poster design (available on t-shirts and mugs here) mimics the Police’s posters, but with rather more wit.
“Thousands of coppers stop photographers every day,” it says, with forgiveable hyperbole, “What if one of them seems odd?”
Then, with a reference to the Police’s frequent abuse of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, it says: “Police twist the laws to help prevent protest, stopping people and threatening arrest under vague all encompassing terrorism laws. If you see a copper behaving oppressively we need to know. Let experienced journalists decide what action to take.”
STATE CONTROL. IF YOU SUSPECT IT, REPORT IT.