I'm a little nervous. I could have got into trouble with my camera.

Last week a 15-year old schoolboy called Fabian Sabbara was Stopped and Searched by UK police officers for taking this photograph of Wimbledon Station, in south London:

He took it, with a little point and shoot camera, as part of a school project for his GCSE (a UK national examination) and he was dressed in his school uniform at the time.

You can read the full story here.

When I read it I did a double-take because ...

About a year ago I was standing outside Wimbledon Station, waiting for my daughter, and I took almost the same photograph:

In fact, he and I must have been standing in exactly the same place. Look how the 'n' of the small name 'Wimbledon', on the canopy over the doors, lines up with the right-hand bar of the middle window above it. The only difference seems to be that I was using a wider angle lens.

This image is now on sale with various agencies (e.g. here).

I guess I was lucky no police officer saw me.

But are there any reading this blog? Or any husbands, wives, children, other relatives or friends of police officers?

If so, can you answer the following two questions (or get answers from a police officer if you are a relative, friend, etc.).
  1. Why do you (the British Police, and security people) have the idea that terrorists are going to photograph a location before committing an atrocity?

  2. But, given that you seem to have this idea (and don't seem to realise that Ordnance Survey maps can be bought legally in UK, and Wimbledon Station forecourt is shown down to individual cars on Google Earth - which is also legally available on the internet) why can you not see that any potential terrorist is going to obtain photographs unobtrusively? He/she is unlikely to stand still in full daylight or ... even more attention-drawing ... set up a tripod.
Sorry to harp on this point, dear reader. And please don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-police. They do a difficult and dangerous job.

But what often gets overlooked in all this is that the terrorists don't commit their evil and murderous acts for the hell of it. They have a reason.

For many of them, the overriding reason is that they hate and despise our society. They hate the freedoms we have. And they hate the way these ideas are spreading. (Women's rights is one example.)

It could be said they want revenge. But there could be more. They may want to stop these ideas spreading. They may even want to impose their laws and beliefs. Listen to some of the recordings these people make before carrying out their acts.

One of their aims is to weaken our society. There are many ways in which they have managed to do this, quite successfully, in the past decade. Think about the splits that have grown, the extreme reactions, the losses of freedom that have taken place, some of them carried out at the highest level, shocking and way beyond the rule of law.

Hassling innocent people, going about their own business quietly and legally, is one more tiny straw on the camel's back.

Another question for my hypothetical police reader ...

Do you think this schoolboy and his family will respect you or fear you after this incident? What about the guy hassled outside a nightclub (here)? Or Jane Sweeney with her tripod (here)? What about the readers of the newspaper articles?

Here is a quote from the newspaper article, " ... the matter had also sparked fear at Fabian's school, where trips had been banned over concerns that pupils could be stopped by police for taking pictures."

People have certain freedoms in our society and these freedoms need to be guarded jealously.

So, does anyone know a police officer? I would dearly love answers to my questions.

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