'Terrorist' photographers: why are our police so stupid?

Highly amused to read the police’s latest defence today of their absurd and sinister policy of targeting photographers. They’ve been claiming that it “may have foiled a massive al-Qaeda attack” after it resulted in the arrest of an “Algerian national” (oo-er, suspicious already) who “filmed four lengthy clips on a Nokia N95 phone.” This, according to the cops, was “hostile reconnaissance” on possible terror targets in London.

Read a little further into the story, however, and you learn the following inconvenient facts:

It happened five months ago.

Although arrested under the Terrorism Act, the suspect was actually charged with… fraud.

Detectives “were unable to find direct links to a terror group”.

The fact is that harassing photographers is not just illiberal, but a monumental waste of police time. Terrorists can use any number of undetectable ways to recce targets – such as pretending to talk on their phones while taking pictures with them, discovering the joys of Google Earth – or buying a picture postcard. No terrorist would be as obvious as this Algerian guy, who was probably taking pictures for some lower-level crime, such as pickpocketing.

If this is the best example Plod can find, then all it actually confirms is what a disgrace their policy is.

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