Don’t Take Photographs in Kent – Or Else

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Photo by Alex Turner

It’s well known the English police have no mercy when it comes to photography. The craziest stories always seem to be coming out of there. And this one is no different.

Photographer Alex Turner was arrested last week in Kent after taking some photos of a fish restaurant. The grounds were “prevention of terrorism” under Section 44, the catch-all anti-terrorism law English police like to use to do whatever they damn well please. But really the officer was just annoyed he took a photo of her, and she claimed that was an unlawful obstruction.

As he tell it on his blog: Two men who claimed they worked for the town council stopped Turner while he was taking photos and requested his identity. When he refused, being that they didn’t fully identify themselves or explain their authority to stop him, they called police. When the officers showed up and Turner took a photo, he was handcuffed, arrested and detained in a police van.

Whilst sharing their views about the threat of terrorism officer xxxxx stated she had felt threatened by me when I took her picture. I cannot recall exactly what she said but I do recall her referring to my size and inferring she found it intimidating at the time (I am 5ft 11in and weigh about 12 stone).

Are these officers really that dumb? Because they come off like real lugnuts, going around arresting people taking photos on busy streets and actually bringing up terrorism. Terrorists are blowing up buildings in Jakarta; they’re not taking photos of Mick’s Plaice in Kent.

In his blog on the Guardian site, Henry Porter writes on the incident and the “The war on street photography,” saying “Clearly something has to be done about the police attitude to photography and filming.” It’s heartening that major media outlets recognize things are out of control. But still. It just doesn’t end.

The  Kent Police released a statement to The Register and basically just recapped the incident, noting that the officers felt Turner was suspicious. However, an investigation is underway.

Turner ends his complaint to the Kent police department with this, which I think sums it all up nicely for those people who side with the government in such matters. And there are always those people who just don’t see there’s a much bigger picture here than one man being arrested in one town.

I know a fair few people may say serves you right for a number of reasons. My reponse to that is it will serve you right when you wake up one day and realise you don’t live in a free country anymore. I’ve been stopped nearly a dozen time under section 44. Up until now I’ve always provided my details. Today I decided not to. Seems that when I choose to exercise my rights I get arrested, cuffed and detained for doing so. Yossarian would appreciate the logic in that.

Read Turner’s full account in his blog.

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