Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Photographing SE11 - you're being watched!

I was obviously very lucky (or quick) when snapping my shots of the large numbers of of police who appear to have been lurking around Vauxhall bus station recently. It seems that there are some agencies who don't like to have their buildings (or even their surrounds) photographed.

To highlight the further liberties that the surveillance minded government is targeting, there's an alarming article in The Amateur Photographer about two photographers taking pictures of London by night.

Where were the photographers?
Apparently, they were on the slipway next to MI6. For those not in the know, there's a large downward slope from ground to river level, next to the MI6 building, used to access the river by (amongst other amphibious vehicles), the London Duck Bus (see helpful picture). I've never seen any other amphibious vehicles, but I suspect that if the US Embassy ever arrives in Nine Elms, they might bring some with them!

What happened?
The young photographers were swooped on by six armed police, who asked to see the contents of their cameras.

Why do we know about it?
Fortunately for us, the news editor of Amateur Photographer was passing walking by, and pointed out, in the article linked above, that there aren't any signs that say that one can't photograph London from the slip way.

Are the police allowed to search innocent people?
Ahh, that would be their "stop and search" powers, which have clearly become so invidious that the Home Office are having to draft guidance so that anti-terrorism legislation isn't used against photographers!

Given the large numbers of security related buildings and entrances in the SE11 area (as well as police stations and police buildings), this is a quick warning to those in the area that you might be stopped by police for taking photos anywhere!

For another curious M16 tidbit, the Disco Damaged blogger recently posted an article on some "door ways" on the corner of Auckland Street, which according to fellow readers, are also related to MI6. The Disco Damaged chap appears to have managed to successfully photograph the doorway without having his camera confiscated though, which just shows how one can manage to successfully Lurk about SE11 and escape detection!

Slipway / duck bus photo courtesey of Days to Amaze website

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