Security mania targets amateur snappers

Extraordinary story on BBC News Magazine.

Misplaced fears about terror, privacy and child protection are preventing amateur photographers from enjoying their hobby, say campaigners.

Phil Smith thought ex-EastEnder Letitia Dean turning on the Christmas lights in Ipswich would make a good snap for his collection.

The 49-year-old started by firing off a few shots of the warm-up act on stage. But before the main attraction showed up, Mr Smith was challenged by a police officer who asked if he had a licence for the camera.

After explaining he didn’t need one, he was taken down a side-street for a formal “stop and search”, then asked to delete the photos and ordered not take any more. So he slunk home with his camera…

This is ludicrous. It’s also unlawful.

“If you are a normal person going about your business and you see something you want to take a picture of, then you are fine unless you’re taking picture of something inherently private,” says Hanna Basha, partner at solicitors Carter-Ruck. “But if it’s the London Marathon or something, you’re fine.”

There are also restrictions around some public buildings, like those involved in national defence.

But other than that, you’re free to click.

There’s some very helpful advice in the comments on this post:

Take some photos of the police who are trying to stop you taking photos. Then tell them you are within your rights to do so and you will not delete them and if they arrest you then you will pursue a case of wrongful arrest. They really hate that.

Thanks to James Miller for spotting it.