The enemy within

I have written before about the increasing use of private security and the erosion of liberty in public space so I was interested in a piece in today’s Guardian, ironically, the result of a Freedom of Information request:

City of London security guards told to report ‘suspicious’ photographers

It seems increasingly clear that unelected, untrained and under qualified security guards from private companies (operating for profit) are deciding who has freedom to walk the streets and carry out perfectly legal activities … like taking photographs in a public space.

Interestingly, the article asserts that both the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and John Yates, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, have warned that police risk losing the support of the public through the inappropriate use of section 44.

Surely not.

I first photographed the burgeoning private security industry in the late 1990s for several magazines and over the years have continued to have assignments to do so.

UK - London - A private security 'operative' patrols South London council estate
UK - London - A security guard at a gated community monitors a bank of closed circuit television screens.

Protest and Survive

I urge everyone to attend a mass photo gathering in defence of street photography on January 23rd at Midday in Trafalgar Square organised by the pressure group I’m a Photographer not a Terrorist.

As their website eloquently states:

Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer.

Not only is it corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording.

This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not just photographers.

We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it.


Images are funny things though and far be it from me to suggest that our rights are being eroded on a day to day basis by those that seek to make our lives more secure… but here are just a few recent developments to may be of interest:

The Children’s Secretary sets out £400m plan to put 20000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV supervision in their own homes

CCTV Cameras fitted in homes to spy on neighbours

Pubs ordered to close because of lack on CCTV

Talking TV cameras in London

But it’s OK because soon, the State will be able to ‘spy’ on every ‘phone call or web search anyway

And let’s not forget that private security operators can join in the fun too

It’s all for your own good. Welcome to the future…