As I was travelling home from my Grandad’s funeral yesterday, I had to change trains at Stevenage. Now, being past 5 o’clock, the coffee-shop etc. was closed, so I had 15-20 minutes to kill on the platform.
Of course, I had a camera with me (my new-to-me Olympus XA2 on which I am currently shooting a test-roll), so I decided that I would take some pictures (vaguely interesting shapes, walkways etc.). Anyway, I noticed (after about five minutes) that A security guy came bounding down onto the platform, but went to the other end – obviously nothing to do with me then. There was also a woman on the platform (waiting for a train) who was giving me odd looks (but then, nothing I was taking was particularly picturesque, so that wasn’t odd either).
Anyway, the train arrived, and I got on. about 10 seconds after we start, I get a tap on the shoulder – it’s the woman from the platform. It turns out she’s Police of some sort (she showed me an ID card, but it was so quick that I didn’t actually take it in). So, she asks me why I was taking pictures etc., and was satisfied with my answers that ‘I thought they looked interesting, y’know the shapes'(!). It turns out that the security guy on the station was all for pulling me in there, but she was more pragmatic and decided that there was no need for a lot of fuss, and she would have a quiet word…
It seems like they get lots of calls from paranoid Joe Publics in light of the war on terror, and of course they have to be followed up ‘just in case’ even though there’s usually nothing suspicious at all (I suspect that no terror plots have been foiled this way, but some burglaries may have been!).
Anyway, nothing serious, just doing her job – no demands to seize film, wipe pictures etc. and (it seems) a pragmatic awareness of the legalities of photography in public.
(I gave her a Moo card with my details etc., so for all I know she’ll read this…)