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Are the UK's anti-terrorism measures too strict?





katelarson
gathering supplemental content for our UKattraction.com website. Basically these people go about taking photographs of tourist attractions and places of interest to visitors to the UK, write a short piece about them, and upload them to our site.

Well... recently, one of them got stopped by a part-time community police officer and was served a terrorism prevention order. Admittedly, he was photographing a synagogue but I still can't help thinking this is taking things a step too far. He explained what he was doing but nevertheless all his details had to be taken down. (I guess if he refused he would have been arrested.)

What do you think about this? Too draconian or a necessary evil in this day and age?
deanhills
katelarson wrote:
gathering supplemental content for our UKattraction.com website. Basically these people go about taking photographs of tourist attractions and places of interest to visitors to the UK, write a short piece about them, and upload them to our site.

Well... recently, one of them got stopped by a part-time community police officer and was served a terrorism prevention order. Admittedly, he was photographing a synagogue but I still can't help thinking this is taking things a step too far. He explained what he was doing but nevertheless all his details had to be taken down. (I guess if he refused he would have been arrested.)

What do you think about this? Too draconian or a necessary evil in this day and age?


Probably would have been a good idea to ask permission first before photographing the synagogue. People don't do that anymore. Apart from this being a common courtesy, it probably would have prevented the situation from happening too.

The "terrorism prevention order" was probably a little over the top, possibly the community police officer had to do something, and that is all he had that he could use in the situation. Wink
Josso
katelarson wrote:
gathering supplemental content for our UKattraction.com website. Basically these people go about taking photographs of tourist attractions and places of interest to visitors to the UK, write a short piece about them, and upload them to our site.

Well... recently, one of them got stopped by a part-time community police officer and was served a terrorism prevention order. Admittedly, he was photographing a synagogue but I still can't help thinking this is taking things a step too far. He explained what he was doing but nevertheless all his details had to be taken down. (I guess if he refused he would have been arrested.)

What do you think about this? Too draconian or a necessary evil in this day and age?


I find that quite surprising, I suppose they are just doing their job. People tend to complain when this kind of thing happens to innocent people but I think it would be far worse if they didn't take notice of these kind of things, most terrorism is prevented in the UK due to paranoid tactics like this.
ocalhoun
Well, it may seem like paranoia, but one of the best indicators of an upcoming attack can be suspicious people taking pictures. (They then use the pictures to help in planning the attack, and to help in telling the attackers what to do.) While they obviously can't stop people from taking pictures of the big tourist attractions, the synagogue might have been an obscure enough attraction for people photographing it to be a rarity.

Now if you want to see real anti-terrorism in action, spend a day taking photos of a military base. ^.^
deanhills
Just shortly after my arrival in the Middle East during 2001, I was using my binoculars to do some birdwatching in an area that happened to be directly adjacent to a police station. Did not take long for a police man to come out and enquire about my binoculars. He had to take a look at those so took it from me to inspect it closely. I was quite new here then, and still paranoid from having a stereo-typed version impression of the Middle East, newly arrived from Canada so went quite cold inside. All turned out well however, and since then I learned that the police force in the country is one of the best trained in anti-activities, as well as exceptionally good and well-trained in dealing with the public. Bottomline though, using equipment like that in the vicinity of public places is something that they will be looking at. At a later occasion that same year, when we were held up at a spot blockade for checking our local residency permits, I learned how good the police are in their dealings with checking up. Some of us did not have our ID documents with us, and the police man was prepared for people like that to use their mobile phones and to confirm that they were bona fide. He also knew immediately who were suspect, and they were then detained effortlessly. The latter happens rarely, in fact I have not been through one of those in the last year or so.

I compare the latter with a similar blockade in New Mexico, US near its border with Mexico a long time ago (checking for illegal aliens). I was travelling with my aunt and uncle and we were stopped and requested to produce our ID documents. I had a photocopy of my passport, as the original was in my uncle's safe, and got the third degree, and wow, those immigration guys really need some retraining in savvy dealings with people from other countries. My uncle is quite good with people (thankfully) so it turned out OK afterwards. Probably would be good for US Immigration to let people know that they should keep their original passports on their person at all times when they are travelling inside the US!
snowynight
UK used to be the greatest country in the world consisting regions all over the world...
inphurno
yes i have to say that this is very sad if you cant walk around and take pictures but if its just an isolated incident then i guess we shouldn't panic
achowles
Strict isn't the right word. More like misused from the outset. There never was any intention to actually use those laws to combat terrorism. That much was made immediately apparent and it's not something they've tried to hide. The only focus is persecution of the general populace. In that regard they may as well hand the country to the damned terrorists for all the difference it would make.

You don't combat terrorism by stripping people of freedoms. On the contrary. You become that which you hate.
standready
A sad and unfortunate necessity of this sick world we live in. Any nutjob though could find plenty of pictures already online without risking exposure of taking their own.
AftershockVibe
standready wrote:
A sad and unfortunate necessity of this sick world we live in. Any nutjob though could find plenty of pictures already online without risking exposure of taking their own.


It isn't a necessity though. Unlike America, the UK has been dealing with terrorism for decades in the form of the Real IRA and related groups. It's only recently, post 2001, that these laws began being passed.
deanhills
AftershockVibe wrote:
standready wrote:
A sad and unfortunate necessity of this sick world we live in. Any nutjob though could find plenty of pictures already online without risking exposure of taking their own.


It isn't a necessity though. Unlike America, the UK has been dealing with terrorism for decades in the form of the Real IRA and related groups. It's only recently, post 2001, that these laws began being passed.

One of the pet things that happened as a result, is still irritating me, but perhaps it is necessary. There are no trash cans in Heathrow or in the Underground, nor outside in the street where you would like them to be. I can understand that though, but still would be nice if they could design bomb-proof trash disposal units. Sometimes the Underground Trains look like trash cans themselves.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
but still would be nice if they could design bomb-proof trash disposal units.

They certainly could, but the cans would be too expensive.
hofodomo01


A map of general government "overbearingness" throughout various countries.

Strength Through Unity. Though I'm probably a bit more fascist than the average citizen around here...
deanhills
hofodomo01 wrote:


A map of general government "overbearingness" throughout various countries.

Strength Through Unity. Though I'm probably a bit more fascist than the average citizen around here...

I clicked on the image link then got to a Website page that I did not understand very well. Can you give some explanation as how it should be used to show the "unbearingness" of countries map?
PatTheGreat42
Not that I live over there, but I'd say yeah. They got through the blitz without security cameras.
sondosia
Quote:
Not that I live over there, but I'd say yeah. They got through the blitz without security cameras.


Yeah? And how many people died?
tony
I personally think they are reasonable. But that's just me.
gcaughill
katelarson wrote:
gathering supplemental content for our UKattraction.com website. Basically these people go about taking photographs of tourist attractions and places of interest to visitors to the UK, write a short piece about them, and upload them to our site.

Well... recently, one of them got stopped by a part-time community police officer and was served a terrorism prevention order. Admittedly, he was photographing a synagogue but I still can't help thinking this is taking things a step too far. He explained what he was doing but nevertheless all his details had to be taken down. (I guess if he refused he would have been arrested.)

What do you think about this? Too draconian or a necessary evil in this day and age?


If you lose your personal freedoms to fight a phantom enemy, you lose.

Here in North America, Britain is increasingly looking like a police state. I sure would not want to live their with all the cameras etc.
inphurno
gcaughill wrote:


If you lose your personal freedoms to fight a phantom enemy, you lose.

Here in North America, Britain is increasingly looking like a police state. I sure would not want to live their with all the cameras etc.


i totally agree... if everyone is so busy watching everyone how can anyone really feel secure? this reminds me of stories of people that lived in communist countries not saying that things have gotten that far but freedom and liberty have to be protected
deanhills
inphurno wrote:
i totally agree... if everyone is so busy watching everyone how can anyone really feel secure?
Well maybe terrorism is enough of a real threat for people to excuse it if the anti-terrorism measures have the appearance of being too strict. I'd rather have it that way, than its opposite. The police should be congratulated for catching those terrorists that were working on terrorizing Brits who were commuting. Think that must have made them feel much safer to know that the Police is doing much more than they thought they were doing. I.e. they're actively watching terrorist cells in the UK.
Bannik
yes its going too far, beyond stupid actually, if taking photos is forbidden then viewing Google map (street view) should also be forbidden.

buying books with images of London should be forbidden as you can basically buy the blue prints for any building (just look for the right book that is)
ocalhoun
Bannik wrote:
yes its going too far, beyond stupid actually, if taking photos is forbidden then viewing Google map (street view) should also be forbidden.

buying books with images of London should be forbidden as you can basically buy the blue prints for any building (just look for the right book that is)

It's not that looking at pictures of places is forbidden... if the terrorists were a bit smarter, perhaps they'd also just use existing books and internet resources.

The problem is that anti-terrorism experience has shown that terrorists often visit a place before attacking it, very often taking pictures of it to take back to the others, which helps them plan effectively. That leads anti-terrorism experts to advise security personnel to be extra suspicious of people taking photos, because many times, it will be the only warning you get of an impending attack.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
The problem is that anti-terrorism experience has shown that terrorists often visit a place before attacking it, very often taking pictures of it to take back to the others, which helps them plan effectively. That leads anti-terrorism experts to advise security personnel to be extra suspicious of people taking photos, because many times, it will be the only warning you get of an impending attack.
Isn't this dated however, and every genuine terrorist knows this. If I were a terrorist, I would use Google to scan the area, combined with a personal visit, and leave my camera at home. The chances of catching a terrorist with a camera in areas of popular public places would be slim. I'm sure police must know that by now too.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
Isn't this dated however, and every genuine terrorist knows this. If I were a terrorist, I would use Google to scan the area, combined with a personal visit, and leave my camera at home. The chances of catching a terrorist with a camera in areas of popular public places would be slim. I'm sure police must know that by now too.

Not every terrorist is an expert on anti-terrorism... I'm sure there are smart ones that realize taking pictures increases the risk of getting caught, but there must also still be many who don't realize this, and just think they're smart for planning so thoroughly.
Good thing you're not... Anyway, it's very likely that most of them are not familiar with internet tools like streetview. Most 'normal' people still don't know about it, and these terrorists might be discouraged from using the internet a lot, to avoid being caught by agents sifting through messages, and to avoid them stumbling upon things that might dissuade them from being terrorists.
The chances are slim, yes... But the chances of finding out about any well-planned attack before it happens are also slim. You have to take every precaution you can... or else after the attack, you'll have somebody asking "well why DIDN'T you have people watching for people taking photos? We know they took photos before attacking; we found them at their 'base'! If you had people watching for it, you could have prevented all this! You're FIRED... and you'll be lucky if you don't end up defending your actions in court!"
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
Not every terrorist is an expert on anti-terrorism... I'm sure there are smart ones that realize taking pictures increases the risk of getting caught, but there must also still be many who don't realize this, and just think they're smart for planning so thoroughly.

Maybe, but not the ones we really have to worry about. If they are really that dumb, they will be sorted out almost immediately.
ocalhoun wrote:
Good thing you're not... Anyway, it's very likely that most of them are not familiar with internet tools like streetview. Most 'normal' people still don't know about it, and these terrorists might be discouraged from using the internet a lot, to avoid being caught by agents sifting through messages, and to avoid them stumbling upon things that might dissuade them from being terrorists.
Again, the serious ones that we need to worry about, would have even more sophisticated tools than that. The ones that are easy to identify, may be easy to deal with.
ocalhoun wrote:
The chances are slim, yes... But the chances of finding out about any well-planned attack before it happens are also slim. You have to take every precaution you can... or else after the attack, you'll have somebody asking "well why DIDN'T you have people watching for people taking photos? We know they took photos before attacking; we found them at their 'base'! If you had people watching for it, you could have prevented all this! You're FIRED... and you'll be lucky if you don't end up defending your actions in court!"
I'm still thinking of the terrorist attack on Mumbai at the end of last year. I'm sure there are a few wannabe terrorists, possibly teenagers from families who have emigrated to say England, Canada or the US, but the ones in Mumbai must have received the most sophisticated of training, with money behind it. Their intelligence was not limited to the streets, they knew every Hotel inside out. Right down to the rooms. I still wonder how they did that, as it has to have been more than having people on the inside, it just has to be completely on a different level.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:

Maybe, but not the ones we really have to worry about. If they are really that dumb, they will be sorted out almost immediately.

They won't be 'sorted out almost immediately' if we stop looking for them... You still have to watch out for the dumb ones.
deanhills wrote:

Again, the serious ones that we need to worry about, would have even more sophisticated tools than that. The ones that are easy to identify, may be easy to deal with.

They won't be easy to deal with if you stop looking for them, no matter how easy they are to identify.
deanhills wrote:

I'm still thinking of the terrorist attack on Mumbai at the end of last year. I'm sure there are a few wannabe terrorists, possibly teenagers from families who have emigrated to say England, Canada or the US, but the ones in Mumbai must have received the most sophisticated of training, with money behind it. Their intelligence was not limited to the streets, they knew every Hotel inside out. Right down to the rooms. I still wonder how they did that, as it has to have been more than having people on the inside, it just has to be completely on a different level.

That would be an example of a well-planned attack. No matter how smart your anti-terrorism people are, they can still be out-smarted. They just have to do the best they can, and take full advantage of any slip-up the terrorists make.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
They won't be 'sorted out almost immediately' if we stop looking for them... You still have to watch out for the dumb ones.
Very true. Think they did that in Toronto Canada. About two years ago there were some young Canadian born Islamists in Toronto who were recruited by a "cell", they were fairly easy to notice by their community, and it was the community who reported on them. Obviously Islamists in Toronto do not wish to be branded as terrorists, so with their cooperation and some surveillance, they managed to jail the teenagers and their conspirators. I'm not so sure how far they went, as some of the information was not completely transparent, probably because of reasons of security. (Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/06/08/terror/main1696687.shtml?source=RSS&attr=World_1696687
jordanklog
PatTheGreat42 wrote:
Not that I live over there, but I'd say yeah. They got through the blitz without security cameras.

But with new technology and increased price competition there are many cameras that qualified as cheap home security cameras.
deanhills
lrj945 wrote:
it may seem like paranoia, but one of the best indicators of an upcoming attack can be suspicious people taking pictures. People don't do that anymore. Apart from this being a common courtesy, it probably would have prevented the situation from happening too.
Reminds me of my first Ramadan in the UAE. We got off earlier during the day and I thought to use the time to do some bird watching in the vicinity with my binoculars. Problem was, unbeknownst to me it was right behind the local jail. Next thing there was a very polite police man asking me what I was doing, and whether he could have a look at my binoculars. Must say these guys are really well trained in diplomacy in the UAE. I was quite careful afterwards however. Very Happy
nishu1990
well to the extent i think they are too strict but being strict is also good.As we all know everyday a terrorist attack happens in this world so being strict is good for safety of british people.
ocalhoun
nishu1990 wrote:
being strict is also good.As we all know everyday a terrorist attack happens in this world so being strict is good for safety of british people.

No, being strict is not good, and no, terrorist attacks are not common, particularly not in the UK.

Don't let the politicians scare you into giving away your freedoms. Freedom is worth a little risk.
Navigator
Check this, think the answer is obvious

http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18156:police-in-uk-list-occupy-in-terrorismextremism-update-and-sf-encampment-raided-with-70-arrests&catid=155:nonprofit-newswire&Itemid=986
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