Got targets to meet?

Plod's still at it.

A few days ago BBC News photographer Jeff Overs was stopped and questioned by the police for taking photographs of a sunset over St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Here's an interview with him on The Andrew Marr Show, the programme for which he takes photographs.

Listen carefully. In the middle of the interview Overs quotes the policeman as telling him, "We've stopped lots of people along the South Bank this afternoon ..."

Aha! Sounds suspiciously like his guy's got targets to meet. He can go back to his station at the end of his shift and report that he's 'cautioned' (or whatever the term he uses) 'n' people that afternoon. Looks great on his record. What a busy bobby he's been.

But does stopping people photographing London's tourist attractions protect the city against terrorist attacks?

Or does it just make the police look daft and overbearing?

Note to any police officers reading this:
Please, please can you try to understand that, should a potential terrorist want to photograph a potential target (already a highly questionable assumption given the free availability of detailed maps, Google Earth, Street View, etc.) they're hardly going to stand in full view of everyone, pointing a bloody great camera at it.

Two footnotes:
  • Here (thanks to D-L Nelson, The Expat Writer) is a good article on this subject.
  • During 2008, in London, 170'000 people were Stopped and Searched. (S&S). To put that in perspective, that's 466 people every day. From news reports, posts on internet forums, etc., a number of these were photographers pursuing their hobby or business quite legally. As a result of these 170'000 S&S, 65 people were arrested. That's a success rate of 0.038%.  Is it an effective method of controlling crime and terrorists? The Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Metropolitan Police were all unable to say whether anyone had successfully been charged or convicted for terror offences as a direct result these Stops and Searches.

    (Incidentally, there is no data on how many of those arrested were subsequently convicted of an offence. But it will almost certainly be lower, making the success rate even more abysmal.) Source here.

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