19/07/2009. Around 23.17. On the way back from the pub. On my bicycle. Front and back lights on. Thought it might be an interesting to get some pictures of Chatham High Street after dark. Given my recent encounter with council officials and the police I wanted to check out if the local community would be as equally protected from suspected terrorism by night as it would be by day. I was not disappointed. Perhaps you won’t be either.
Once again taking pictures in the vicinity of Mick’s Plaice. This time a police car and two WPCs. What are you doing? Taking pictures. Why? It’s a hobby. Have you got some ID. This time I produced some. I didn’t want to get arrested again nor involve the police in another complaint. Had I been arrested before? Yes I replied, just last week under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Stern looks as you might expect. One WPC went off to make the radio checks. The other asked to see the pictures I’d taken. I show the officer the pictures. I’m shooting digital tonight. Would I be arrested if I had not produced ID? Probably was the reply. Now is the time perhaps you might be feeling reassured.
Colleague returns. Are you still planning mass action in the high street on the 15th? A photo walk maybe. Why are you asking? Just some background checks. Turn your lights off you’re wasting batteries. No problem. I’ll leave them on. We say our goodbyes and go our seperate ways.
Sleep easy in the knowledge that Kent police are extremely vigilant and their primary concern is always the safety of the public.
Yeah. I know. You might think I’m an arse. You might say I provoked the encounter. CCTV cameras picked me up. Perhaps a call was made. Someones taking pictures in the High Street. It’s late at night. No problem we’re in the area we’ll check it out. Better to be safe than sorry. I show them ID believing I’ll be arrested if I don’t. I don’t have to but I know from prior experience the consequences if I don’t.
Should someone with a camera taking pictures openly in a public place be considered a threat? Perhaps they should. How far should preventative measures be taken? Is this far enough? Perhaps cameras should be treated like guns and you have to have a licence to own one with tight restrictions on where and how you use it. Perhaps mobile phones with cameras should be banned. Perhaps video’s made in public should all be vetted. Perhaps compulsory ID cards should be introduced. What price are you willing to pay to be reassured against a supposed threat to your safety?
I won’t bother with the pictures. I’ve got them but they’re all blurred. I should have used a tripod. Maybe next time I’ll bring one along. I changed my mind.