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I made a single picture outside the British Museum yesterday while aware of police by the gates but out of nowhere a lady immediately approached me who identified herself has plainclothes Met Police as part of their Operation Servator. This is a well-publicised campaign around London where they spring up to speak to the public about security issues, handing out leaflets about being vigilant etc. - all part of anti-terrorism.

 

Very politely, she told me she'd watched me taking pictures of people on the steps because usually, visitors photograph the wider building and architecture - and I had not, which was 'untypical'. I started my usual spiel explaining who I was but sensed she saw me as zero threat so we chatted very amicably about my profession, how I make a living and then about her busy police work and that when off-duty, she also takes street pictures including landscapes and typography. Very untypical too, I thought!

 

I've been stopped many, many times for the same reason by uniforms in London and the tone is usually pretty good, considering they stop me working - but this was the first time by a covert officer. The Servator project ("unpredictable, highly visible police deployments, designed to deter, detect and disrupt a wide range of criminal activity") tells Londoners that plainclothes officers are out and about looking for 'hostile reconnaissance' (".. the purposeful observation of people, places, vehicles and locations with the intention of collecting information to inform the planning of a hostile act against a target").

 

She never did ask to see any ID although she was interested in all three pictures on the card so just before we went our own ways I said she should look me up online, offering my website address which I didn't see as a ploy nor compromising my position. We even shook hands with a 'nice to meet you, thanks for the chat'.

 

My reason for posting this is merely to let those of you coming to London that they're currently around major sites, generally just wanting to know you're up to nothing sinister.

 

Happy shooting!

 

Richard.

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Yes, I've found that police are approaching me more often than they used to and in an entirely amicable way. It's clearly something they've been requested to do, as some aren't as natural as others and make conversation as if reading from a cheat sheet!

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Very nice encounter, and reminds me that I always  prefer human police, over any amount of cameras. 

The latter(cameras) I regard more as an intrusion of privacy - and London is now plastered with them. 

The only thing they are good for is analysis  after something has  happened. 

 

Plain clothes and uniformed officers, can react much faster and bear more of a chance to stop something from happening. 

Your experience shows that all involved do profit from an informal chat besides achieving much higher security for the entire community as would be possible with cameras. 

 

Edited by hdh

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I talked to several police while I was there last fall. We talked about guns and they all seemed to want to quiz me on my English history! Being in Canada, I am not use to seeing police with assault rifles here. It was interesting...I went to dinner with one of them one night as well.

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I've been stopped by police quite a few times. I generally think that since they have to record the stop, I must be helping them to balance out their figures so they don't look as if they're profiling by race. (This occurred to me after I was stopped in an area of tower blocks almost entirely populated by black and other ethnic minorities, notably very many Muslims). I do wonder what attitude they would take to me if I happened to have dark skin, however.

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18 hours ago, MandyD said:

I talked to several police while I was there last fall. We talked about guns and they all seemed to want to quiz me on my English history! Being in Canada, I am not use to seeing police with assault rifles here. It was interesting...I went to dinner with one of them one night as well.

How did the dinner date go!?!............:wub:

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1 hour ago, Stokie said:

How did the dinner date go!?!............:wub:

 

Just what I was thinking! (but was afraid to ask).

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I am in London and do mostly timelapses (so I always need a tripod) and drone footage.
I had loads of encounters with police, generally with a quite nice attitude.
But what I find much more frustrating is private security that prevent me to use tripod pretending that I am standing on private ground.
To find a few square inches in London where to park a tripod has become a big challenge!

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But what I find much more frustrating is private security that prevent me to use tripod pretending that I am standing on private ground.

 

+1

Last year I was at the Bullhorn shopping centre in Birmingham and some jobsworth forced me to delete some images I took while inside the shopping centre. What a clown.  

 

My encounters with British police have been overwhelmingly positive. 

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45 minutes ago, Brasilnut said:

 

+1

Last year I was at the Bullhorn shopping centre in Birmingham and some jobsworth forced me to delete some images I took while inside the shopping centre. What a clown.  

 

My encounters with British police have been overwhelmingly positive. 

 

No-one should be able to order you to delete your files on the spot as they're your property - regardless of where you took them. Publishing them, of course is another matter. You should challenge these people at every opportunity. They're low-paid and just want to keep their job - and they're often watched by a camera themselves while talking to you - so it's understandable.

 

They usually just spout what their supervisor tells them to say and have no knowledge of anything further so just keep smiling and tell them they cannot force you to delete or alter any part of  your photography (a judge can though I've never heard of any examples). Once they realise you know your rights they usually back-off.

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No-one should be able to order you to delete your files on the spot as they're your property - regardless of where you took them. Publishing them, of course is another matter. You should challenge these people at every opportunity. They're low-paid and just want to keep their job - and they're often watched by a camera themselves while talking to you - so it's understandable.

 

They usually just spout what their supervisor tells them to say and have no knowledge of anything further so just keep smiling and tell them they cannot force you to delete or alter any part of  your photography (a judge can though I've never heard of any examples). Once they realise you know your rights they usually back-off.

 

That's good advice. It was one week after the Manchester terrorist attack so I guess security people were jumpy.  

 

They were snapshots so didn't feel like arguing but if I caught great shots I would fight to keep the shots. 

 

The only other time I was ever asked to delete was at the airport in Tel Aviv but that's completely understandable considering their security situation. Should have been more careful there and then. 

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41 minutes ago, Brasilnut said:

They were snapshots so didn't feel like arguing but if I caught great shots I would fight to keep the shots. 

You could always use recovery software to get them back

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25 minutes ago, Avpics said:

You could always use recovery software to get them back

 

Absolutely. If you really need to calm things down, make a big gesture about pressing Delete then recover them back home.

 

Remember not to reformat beforehand, though.

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