Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

30th May 2012

The Train Stays in the Picture
Posted by at 11.59pm | In the News, Trains | No responses

Oh Glasgow, I love you so much and yet now you do something to offend me…

A couple of years ago, I visited Scotland’s best city (sorry Edinburgh, but it’s true) and rode the Subway. I took a few pictures as mementoes of my trip. My friend Scott did something similar when he “tarted” the Subway last year.

It turns out we were both breaking the law. SPT, the operators of the subway, have forbidden photography, and are now looking to enshrine the ban in new byelaws which have been put out for consultation.

It’s a daft ban. The Glasgow Subway, with its single circular route and Lilliputian trains, is a genuine curiosity. A quick “shoogle” on the subway is a must for tourists. Are SPT really saying that visitors can’t take any souvenir photos?

They’re not the only organisation to crack down on the “menace” of people taking photos – Merseytravel reportedly ban bus spotters from their bus stations, for example. This and the Subway ban are just two small pockets of unpleasantness, but I really don’t want this sort of high-handed officialdom to spread.

SPT claim it’s in the name of “security”, but how is the network “secured” by a blanket ban? For starters, potential terrorists are hardly likely to wave cameras around obviously. Anyone wanting to do reconnaissance would do the photo-taking surreptitiously, or – and I’m sorry if this seems obvious – they could learn the layout of the stations and, er remember it – no pictures required.

You could ask “who would want to take pictures of trains and stations?” Well, I run a little blog called The Station Master which is based on exactly that premise. If photography was banned (or I had to ask permission in advance every time I visited a station), that site would simply not be possible.

The Subway is part of Glasgow’s social history, the same way that the Tube is woven into London’s fabric and the Mersey Ferries form part of Liverpool’s identity. When the history of these systems is studied in books or on television, the photos and archive film footage that appear are almost inevitably taken from amateur footage recorded by enthusiasts.

If the ban is enshrined in the bylaws, the only history of the Glasgow Subway will be that documented by officially sanctioned photographers. That would be a terrible thing to happen.

I’m utterly opposed to the Government cuts, but if SPT think they have enough staff to enforce this byelaw properly, maybe there’s still too much money in their budget.

Anyway, rant over. Visit Picture Our Subway which is a site campaigning against the new byelaw.

21st July 2009

Picture this
Posted by at 11.39pm | In the News | 1 response

Your police at work: a woman was ‘detained’ after using her mobile phone to film the police carrying out a stop and search on her boyfriend.

She said she was detained there for about 25 minutes, during which her wrist was handcuffed and a female officer told her: “We’ll put you under arrest, take to you to the station and look at your phone there.”

A second female officer approached her and said, incorrectly: “Look, your boyfriend’s just been arrested for drugs, so I suggest you do as we say.”

Section 58(a) of the Terrorism Act says it is illegal to photograph a police officer if the images are considered “likely to be useful” to a terrorist. What a wonderfully vague piece of legislation. Does anyone in the Government have a clue what damage they’re doing?

There really should be more of a fuss being made about this. For now, this Guardian blog is the best I can find.