Reports of photographers being harassed or stopped using bogus interpretations of anti-terror legislation are on the rise. To help raise awareness of the issue and change public perceptions, BJP has begun a new campaign - and we're inviting you all to join us

Chris Steele-Perkins of Magnum Photos kicks off our campaign

BJP is launching a campaign to counter the rising paranoia that targets every photographer who shoot images in public places.

We are calling all photographers, amateur or professional, to join our protest by taking part in a visual campaign, designed to raise awareness about increasing restrictions on shooting in tFhe public realm, which together with abuse of police powers and increasing hostility from the public at large, is impacting on photographers every day, in the UK and abroad.

The 'Not A Crime' campaign has already got the backing of two of Britain's leading photographers, Stuart Franklin and Chris Steele-Perkins of Magnum Photos. We invite you to join them by posting a self-portrait of yourself together with a sheet of white card with the phrases 'Not a crime' or 'I am not a terrorist' (in your first language) to a Flickr group BJP has created. Details on how to do so can be found at www.not-a-crime.com.

'Increasing concerns about terrorism, paedophilia, health and safety, and personal privacy have resulted in a deep mistrust of photographers,' says BJP's editor Simon Bainbridge.

'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!

'BJP has always reported these abuses, but in the last couple of years the number of incidents has increased to such a level that we decided we should begin a campaign to draw attention to the fact that Britain is now becoming a no-photo zone. Having lobbied the Home Office and police authorities to take a more sensible to approach to public photography rights, and to honour existing agreements with press photographers, we found a lack of willingness to address the problem, which requires not so much a change of law, but a general recognition that photography is not a crime. If this issue matters to you, I urge you to join us in our visual petition, post a picture, and help spread the message.'

Turning point

The campaign comes at a potential turning point in the public's perception of the issue. One consequence of April's G20 protests is that the police has come in for increased scrutiny about how it handles media coverage of such events, and is being compelled to address the larger issue of public photography rights.

Last week, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) released the 'Adapting to Protest' report, which found that the police's treatment of the media had been inadequate. The HMIC also criticised the inability of police officers to recognise photographers' press cards.

The report follows Lord Carlile's comments earlier this year criticising the police for their wilful misinterpretation of the 2000 Terrorism Act to prevent photographers from taking pictures of them in public places, and there have been a string of complaints lodged by photographers organisations and individuals who have been subject to harassment or misuse of stop and search powers.

Over the next year the campaign aims to gather hundreds of self-portraits of photographers. We will use these images to gather a visual petition to protest increasing restrictions, and to help take out campaign to the public via Flickr and international photographer networks and colleagues in the media.

You can help us get the momentum going by taking a self-portrait and posting it to our Flickr group at flickr.com/groups/iamnotaterrorist. Or visit www.not-a-crime.com for further information.

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