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Stupid police adverts: if you suspect them..

Several things about this poster annoy me. Not least of which is the fact that it’s a horrible, blurry PDF that appears to have all the image quality of an GIF image saved by Microsoft Paint, but that’s beside the point.

More importantly, there’s the suggestion that anyone taking notes in public, or heaven forbid taking photographs near a CCTV camera (so, on any fucking street in Central London, then) is a terrorism suspect that should be reported. Of course, who else might wander around London with a camera and scribbling notes? Me. And just about any other journalist who works in this city. And anyone who enjoys photography or writing as a hobby, for that matter.

More specifically: I know writers who have spent time making notes on CCTV cameras (when writing an article on the data protection implications of private CCTV, and the oft-ignored laws that govern them). I also know photographers who have spent time taking photos of said cameras, and the warning signs that accompany them (again, for the same articles). Put enough of these stupid posters around town, and anyone attempting this kind of perfectly legitimate and, in fact, important journalism is likely to find themself being reported to the police as a potential murderer. Showing a press card might help explain matters, but how is this going to help the snap-happy tourist who finds him or herself in the same situation after clicking away near the National Gallery?

There are already enough crazy regulations about where and what one is allowed to photograph in London (I came across this when testing a DSLR for work – two shots in Charing Cross station and I was swooped on) without inciting an army of would be “citizen warriors” to report anyone with a camera or a biro.

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