Section 35

First it was Terrorism, Now it’s Supercars

Bystanders using phones to photograph Supercars on Regent Street. Photo © Pete Maclaine.

Photography has been a hobby or a job for someone since 1827. Now the photographer is not only viewed as suspicious but encouraging perceived anti-social behaviour.

This time the apparent anti-social behavior takes the form of car enthusiasts who like to show off their ‘Supercars’ in and around London, with Knightsbridge being a major attraction.

The pastime has attracted car spotters to the area, who then take pictures of the vehicles they admire for their collections. All seems innocent enough for the car spotter with his or her camera, until the police step in.

Police are blaming photographers for encouraging the Supercar enthusiasts to congregate in Knightsbridge. So much so that police are issuing dispersal orders to photographers taking pictures of the cars. Once again the buck has been passed to the photographer.

One enthusiast known only as Dean was issued with a Police Dispersal Order under Section 35 ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and claims to have been threatened with arrest if he returned to the area within 48 hours.

This is akin to blaming photographers who take pictures of graffiti for encouraging vandalism. Following this logic, photographers, photojournalists and people with camera phones could be asked to disperse from any area on the whim of a police officer or PCSO who blames the photographer for attracting a host of anti-social or criminal behaviour. Effectively banning photography from an entire area.

This is an attempt to ban photography from a public space by the back door using a Dispersal Order. There are no laws against photography in public places. If you can see it from a public space, you can snap it. That includes supercars, crappy cars or even police cars.

We at PHNAT will leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not noisy supercars are the latest anti-social tragedy to strike our cities, but we are deeply concerned that photographers are being dispersed and threatened with arrest for taking pictures of whatever they choose to in a public place.