New London England Anti-Terror Posters

Cory Doctorow writes on Boing Boing about the latest anti-terrorist campaign in England.

His entire post is a worthwhile read – but to get a flavour of it:

The London police have bested their own impressive record for insane and stupid anti-terrorism posters with a new range of signs advising Londoners to go through each others’ trash-bins looking for “suspicious” chemical bottles, and to report on one another for “studying CCTV cameras.”

Essentially, this redefines “suspicious” as anything outside of the direct experience of the most frightened, ignorant and foolish people in any neighborhood.

So in addition to being suspected of being a terrorist if you take a photograph of a police officer, or of a public facility, or of a surveillance camera, you are a suspect if you even look at a surveillance camera!

UPDATE: See the remixed posters resulting from the Boing Boing challenge intended to mock the posters.


  1. The problem with these measures, and similar ones in Canada, is that the public is not educated enough to differentiate between behaviour and people.

    I always think back to the two cases in Pennsylvania, where neighbours reported people who seemed suspicious, largely due to their ethnic background alone.

    Arab News:

    The raid was the latest in the series of hate crimes that Pakistanis have being subjected to in the US after Sept. 11. The fact that the victim, Dr. Irshad Shaikh, dealt with medicine and was a Muslim from a country that hosts thousands of Taleban, fitted perfectly into the stereotype image held by the neighbors and the FBI.

    Not sure this is the type of terror we would want to unleash on minorities in Canada as well:

    “I’m still in trauma,” Kazi told The New York Times. “I cannot sleep properly. I cannot eat. You are worried of the fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen tomorrow?”

    The best part is that one of the physicians involved in the anthrax investigation was actually the City’s health commissioner.

  2. Quite true.

    And even on the behaviour front, this suggests that just having some random chemical or substance for a legitimate purpose, or just looking at a camera or taking photos is bad behaviour.

    Your thoughts, and the definition of bad behaviour in general, both lead to Cory’s complaint of “suspicious” as anything outside of the direct experience of the most frightened, ignorant and foolish people in any neighborhood.

  3. Bruce Schneier’s blog has too frequent discussions of the war on the unfamiliar… Very depressing.

    If there is consolation, I suppose maybe it’s that this is not new. I saw a quotation today from H.L. Mencken, who’s been dead over 50 years: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    It hasn’t always worked, though its track record in the past 8 years has been excellent, unfortunately.