Stealing Your Freedom

The threat of terrorism is a global concern, and many countries have enacted laws to combat it. Stealing Your Freedom focuses on counter-terrorism efforts in Britain, and how laws enacted in the interest of national security are instead impeding civil liberties.

Political commentator and host Peter Hitchens interviews British nationals that have been impacted by new restrictions on public protests and transit photography. 19 year-old Cimran Shah shares his story of being questioned after taking a photograph of officers with his cell phone. A transit cop working for the British Transport Police (BTP) frisked him, took his details, and half-heartedly searched his phone, giving up when the exact photo couldn't immediately be found.

Shah takes this as an indication that the cops did not, in fact, have valid concerns about his photograph and were simply peacocking their authority in the name of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Shah now fears his name and details are living on a government list despite his innocence.

Matthew Dodd, a young railway enthusiast who was approached by transit police while trainspotting, also shares his experience in dealing with the BTP. Dodd had been photographing a passing train when three officers confronted him and conducted a public full-body search after accusing the seemingly mild-mannered teenager of copping an attitude. Andy Trotter, a Chief representing the BTP, defends the actions of his officers, calmly explaining that terrorists do not have a universal appearance and that while they may not get every search right, they are striving not to "get it wrong."

Arguing that police efforts against common crimes is decreasingly effective as focus is placed instead on the dubious task of terrorism prevention, Hitchens continues to interview civilians who have endured police harassment in an effort to further expose ethical transgressions by law enforcement. An intriguing and thought-provoking evaluation of the pro/con balance of anti-terrorism legislation, Stealing Your Freedom serves as a warning against the increasingly invasive nature of law enforcement. While many claiming to be on the side of the law insist these searches are simply the "price of freedom," Hitchens articulates that this is a price too high to pay.

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