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.

5 thoughts on “Fake police at Canary Wharf

  1. “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.”

    Actually, your father had no rights to film. There is no such ‘right’. He was on private land. Just as if I were in your house, filming you, if you withdraw permission for me to do so then I no longer have the right to film. The behaviour of the security is a seperate issue.
    It is the essence of freedom that the owners of the property (Canary Wharf) get to say what you may or may not do there. They have the same rights as you.

  2. Whilst he may have been on private land, the most the private plods can do is to ask him to leave if he isn’t complying with their rules.
    You may have to show any pictures taken to the police if you are not doing it for journalistic purposes. If you are, then they need a warrant, otherwise you may be done for obstruction. If it’s for a blog or something similar, you may well be covered by the exemption in the law.
    They have no right to ask you to delete any images, nor to confiscate any cameras or similar without arresting you.

  3. But if you get a telephoto and stand on the street, they have no right to the photos because it’s a public place and even people’s photos can be taken and used without permission in that situation – so you take a photo of the fake police.

    I’m surprised no one’s done a mass meet to descend on somewhere like the gherkin and all take photos of its’ lobby, and then run away really quickly and all post them up on the net. That’d be funny 🙂

  4. You don’t have to show photographs to police, journalist or not. Asserting your legal right is not obstruction, a matter the Met reminds officers of from time to time. As for the matter of being on private land, the laws of the realm outweigh asserted authority.

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