The London Metropolitan police have just issued new measures in the fight against terrorism. During a five week campaign police officers are expected to stop and search more “odd” looking people and the public are being warned to report anything “suspicious”. But after just two weeks since its launch the public are starting to question whether it’s infringing on civil liberties. Photographers in particular are sick of being questioned by policemen and being told to move on. To voice their complaints, artists are creating their own versions of the campaign’s posters.
All this [the campaign] paints me as being odd, suspicious and very much a potential terrorist in the eyes of the London Metropolitan Police who want you, the reader, to report me. (...) We bring terrorism close into our homes by terrorizing ourselves/ family/ friends/ community/ state/ country through paranoia and suspicion."
Parodies of the original posters
"I’ve been stopped three times in the last two weeks"
Nick Fine is an amateur photographer from London:I've been stopped three times in the last two weeks. The first time I was photographing traffic [see pictures]. Then I was photographing railway lines and there was a helicopter overhead, so a police officer was sent over. And just a few days ago I was doing a close up on the Houses of Parliament when I was told if I didn't move on I'd be arrested. I don't know exactly what they're instructed but you can't go out in central London with a long lens camera without getting hassled. I feel put out.
I know they've got to make the public aware but we need to use some kind of common sense. Since when did Al-Qaeda start doing their research in high visibility gear? Or choosing ruddy great big white Canon lenses over small high resolution point and shoot compacts? In broad daylight at rush hour? The campaign's basically telling you "If there are a thousand photographers then one of them is a terrorist". Interviewing me is wasting police time. And it's frustrating. We haven't been presented with any facts [along with the campaign] so it's basically media hype and scaremongering, which is hard to take seriously."
The original campaign
The publicity campaign was launched on 25 February 2008. "Odd" looking photographers, houses with "unusual activity" or "suspicious mobile" phone users are all things to look out for. Here are the original posters: