Keep 'Em Peeled

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 115 months ago
Keep 'Em Peeled

That burly fella on the tube looking a bit shifty? The diminutive woman with a suspiciously large rucksack giving you the heeby jeebies? Got a funny feeling about that couple walking along Oxford Street? The Met want you to report it.

A new campaign is being launched to encourage Londoners to "trust their instincts" and contact the Anti-Terrorist Hotline if they see anything untoward. Adverts on the tube and on radio will exhort people to "look out for the unusual", which in a city like London really isn't too hard to find, while the pithy phrase "no piece of information is considered to small" sounds like a ruminative epithet coined by Sherlock Holmes.

While vigilance is certainly to be encouraged, do we really want Londoners to become Stasi-like spies with a twitching curtain approach to their neighbours? Here are some of the things the Met warns to watch out for:

Do you know someone who travels but is vague about where they're going? Have you seen anyone taking pictures of security arrangements such as CCTV? Do you know someone who visits terrorist-related websites?

Londonist has certainly been guilty of one of these, though our intentions were purely aesthetic. But what do we make of such thought crimes - or even gaze crimes - being tainted as actions worthy of terrorists? If we regard our fellow residents with nothing but the long hard stare of suspicion, if we're reduced to seeing the worst in anyone we encounter, haven't the terrorists already won? The tragedy of Jean Charles de Menezes reminds us just how flexible the definition of "suspicious" behaviour can be.

Officer snap from Alex @ Faraway's Flickrstream

Last Updated 25 February 2008