In Britain, it’s a crime to take a photo of yourself holding a sword

Anthony Bowman was fined £200. His crime? He displayed a picture of himself on his Bebo page, in which he was holding a sword:

A teenager from Ayrshire who was caught posing with a sword on the social networking site Bebo has been fined £200 at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court.

Anthony Bowman, 19, pleaded guilty to displaying the image on Bebo between January 2006 and July 2008. His case came to light after police conducted a trawl of the internet in a bid to cut crime and disorder. Bowman was then identified by officers from the Strathclyde force’s Violence Reduction Taskforce.

Ch Supt Bill Fitzpatrick, of Strathclyde Police, said Operation Access had been introduced to “crack down on youth violence and anti-social behaviour within communities across Ayrshire”.

He added: “It provides us with an opportunity to identify young people who associate themselves with violence and the tools of violence. It is one strand of a very comprehensive strategy intended to bring about a reduction in violence by tackling it at source and in the most direct fashion. Youngsters who use social networking sites irresponsibly should be warned that their activities are being monitored and they may get a visit from the police.”

So let’s get this right: if you have a photo taken of yourself with a sword, and you put it on the Internet, you’re breaking the law.

And Tom Harris says the government isn’t destroying civil liberties. Yeah, right.

UPDATE 8-Nov-2008: It appears that there are at least two other reportsd of the same case. Incidently both cite the man’s name as Charles Bowman not Athony Bowman. The Scotsman says this:

A teenager seen posing with a sword on social networking site Bebo was fined £200 at court.

Charles Bowman, 19, from Ayrshire, admitted possessing a blade in a public place at a hearing at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, prosecutors said.

The conviction follows the launch of Operation Access in July, which has seen Strathclyde Police officers target offenders by trawling online networking sites.

The information is passed on to the Violence Reduction Unit which works with community police officers to identify those pictured.

Chief Superintendent Bill Fitzpatrick, divisional commander for Ayrshire, said: “Operation Access is an intelligence-led operation, which has been introduced to crack down on youth violence and anti-social behaviour within communities across Ayrshire.

“It is one strand of a very comprehensive strategy intended to bring about a reduction in violence by tackling it at source and in the most direct fashion.

“Youngsters who use social networking sites irresponsibly should be warned that their activities are being monitored and they may get a visit from the police.”

Kilmarnock district procurator fiscal Les Brown said: “This case demonstrates the benefits of using creative investigative techniques to gather evidence of crimes of violence and anti-social behaviour.

“Knife crime blights many local communities and we are committed to taking prompt and effective action to pursue those responsible and stop them in their tracks.”

Bowman was convicted of breaching the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act between January 2006 and July 2008.

While the Kilmarnock Standard says:

A teenager seen posing with a sword on social networking site Bebo was fined £200 at court.

Charles Bowman, 19, from Ayrshire, admitted possessing a blade in a public place at a hearing at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, prosecutors said.

The conviction follows the launch of Operation Access in July, which has seen Strathclyde Police officers target offenders by trawling online networking sites.

It’s news to me that waving a sword around in public is a crime in Scotland. (The actual law is section 49 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995). I wonder if these people from Edinburgh University Medieval Re-enactment Society are also breaking the law:

perfidious_albion_combat

Presumably not. After all, if you’re middle class and associated with Edinburgh University, then you should clearly be treated more favourably by the law than if you’re a working class teenager who lives on a council estate. (Note: I’ve no idea whether Anthony/Charles Bowman is working class or lives on a council estate; I’m talking about general principles rather than particular cases).

This entry was posted in Britain, censorship, digital rights, human rights, Scotland, society, war on civil liberties and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to In Britain, it’s a crime to take a photo of yourself holding a sword

  1. Graham says:

    So is this Anthony Bowman at all related to the Charles Bowman featured in this story? I hate to suggest that people are falling for a piece of bad reporting, but from the Scotsman version it sounds like he posted a picture online which was then used as evidence that he had committed an actual genuine crime – waving a sword around in a public place. This would be remarkable in neither a legal nor a civil liberties sense, of course, as he posted the evidence himself entirely voluntarily.

    The Kilmarnock Standard version’s here. There are various others.

  2. Russ Craig says:

    As a youth in Ayrshire I knew people who took swords and crossbows to gangfights. They are all dead or in prison now. They made other peoples lifes hell. I wonder if this is the same Anthony Bowman who was charged with these other offences…

    l BREACH of the peace and drugs charges were denied last week by an 18-year-old Galston man.

    Anthony Bowman, of New Road, is charged with shouting and swearing in the Irvine Valley town’s Titchfield Street, kicking the wing mirror of a car and possessing ecstasy. The offences are alleged to have been committed on December 7.

    I am thankful for our knife ban.

  3. Russ Craig says:

    Sorry, that didn’t work right. First post here. It is a quote from http://www.kilmarnockstandard.co.uk/ayrshire-news/latest-news/2008/01/17/thief-took-cops-x2019-charity-box-81430-20361138/

    I am glad the police now scan social networking sites for evidence of crimes and view violent crime reduction as a laudable aim.

  4. Graham says:

    It’s news to me that waving a sword around in public is a crime in Scotland.

    Really? It’s common knowledge as far as I can tell. Anything larger than a 3″ folding knife, unless you have some lawful reason for having it with you. There was a lot of discussion of it at the time – it wasn’t sneaked in. It came up at various times in connection with Beltane and neidfire, too. And those aren’t swords in the picture, as they have neither blade nor point. They’re props.

  5. cabalamat says:

    Russ Craig: I am glad the police now scan social networking sites for evidence of crimes and view violent crime reduction as a laudable aim.

    I’m also in favour of reducing violent crime. However, putting a picture on the internet isn’t violent (because the picture isn’t going to reach out of the screen and hit you), and nor should it be a crime, because freedom of speech, if it means anything at all, must include the right to publish things that offend others.

  6. cabalamat says:

    Russ Craig: Anthony Bowman, of New Road, is charged with shouting and swearing in the Irvine Valley town’s Titchfield Street, kicking the wing mirror of a car and possessing ecstasy.

    Kicking a wing mirror is criminal damage and should be illegal.

    Possessing drugs is a victimless crime and should be legal.

    Whether shouting and swearing should be legal depends on the circumstances.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s