Well, you could say the tables have turned. After a long period where photographers and the police seemed to be entrenched in hostilities they are now asking for our help. And good on them.
The Met’s latest initiative, Project Servator, was launched last winter as a partnership between the police, local businesses and members of the public to deter, detect and disrupt hostile reconnaisance by terrorists; they want us to be extra ‘eyes and ears’ on the streets, reporting anything we consider to be even remotely suspicious.
Today I met PC Kris Pearce (pictured) who is a member of the Ministry of Defence Police as she was on patrol in Whitehall. We discussed the current issues the capital is facing in the light of recent and predicted terrorist incidents and threats and we agreed that street photographers could potentially play an important role in keeping us all safe.
Just think about it . . . we spend many thousands of hours, collectively, on the streets each week and we have (or should have!) well-developed observational skills. We should take this opportunity to be extra vigilant and call in anything which seems even vaguely suspicious.
There were dozens of Project Servator officers around Westminster today, uniformed and undercover, with cars, vans, horses and a helicopter. The idea is that such operations will be mounted randomly and unpredictably across London; the approach is very ‘soft touch’ but serious and purposeful.
It doesn’t seem that long since photographers (particularly professional ones) were considered to be a ‘terrorist threat’ by many officers and I had always thought that we could and should be working together. Hopefully it will catch on.
in the meantime if you do see anybody or anything suspicious, you can report it on 0800 789 321.