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Increasing concerns about terrorism, paedophilia, health and safety, personal privacy and plain old paranoia about pretty much anything Her Majesty’s subjects get up to has resulted in a deep mistrust of photographers.
Police routinely invoke anti-terror legislation to prevent photographers from carrying out their work, and photojournalists are constantly filmed at public gatherings and their details kept on an ever-growing database. Tourists, particularly foreign tourists, are also targeted by police, as was the case with an Austrian father and son recently who made the mistake of photographing a building of an extremely sensitive nature—Walthamstow bus station.
Put simply, Britain has become a no-photo zone, and so if you fail to comply, you may find yourself liable to attack, arrest or harassment. Recognising that Britain is not the only country where such a draconian anti-photographer culture is developing, the British Journal of Photography is beginning an international visual campaign to raise awareness.
A safety instructor in the Control of Substances, Hazardous to Health (COSHH) asked line managers in his class:
“Anyone know the formula for water?”
“That’s easy,” said one man.”
“What is it?”
“H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O.”
“What, what?” the instructor said.
“H to O,” explained the line manager.