A few days ago my father – a passionate amateur photographer – fell foul of Canary Wharf’s pretend police. His crime? Taking a photo of a shadow of a tree on a building.
Initially it was two fake police which challenged him, demanding that he show them what photos he took on his camera. This not even the real police are entitled to do, and fake police certainly can not (since they have no more rights than you or I).
He quite rightly refused, at which point the fake coppers prevented him from leaving, and so committed the first actual crime.
More fake police arrived and the situation became increasingly tense, the fake police demanded that he show them the photos citing “terrorism” and “9/11” and “The current climate” and said that taking a photo of a shadow was “not what normal people did”.
They threatened him by their physical presence, preventing him from leaving, and threatened to call the police. To which my father requested that they do so since it was the private security agents who were breaking the law (they of course didn’t call them).
The intimidation continued for about 40 minutes becoming increasingly farcical until the supervisor turned up, who was much less confrontational and admitted that they had no right to demand to see his photos or to detain him. My father, who was not feeling very well and was getting tired, showed the photo and was finally permitted to leave.
To his credit, my father kept his cool throughout although he now wishes that he hadn’t capitulated. We are now investigating possible legal action against the private security firm responsible and their agents.
This sort of scenario appears to be happening more often, and it is happening thanks to the passive co-operation of the public. It is understandable that people do give in at times – especially in situations like this where 20 odd 6ft something men were sent to intimidate one gentlemen in his 60s carrying a camera, however it is the general climate of passive acceptance that lets governments and corporations think we can get away with it.
Fundamentally, you have the right to film, take photos, say, do or be anything and you don’t need permission to do so. This is the essence of freedom, and to let this right – which (if you excuse the hyperbole) was paid for with the blood of your ancestors – be lost is the only crime that really matters.