The subject of photographer's rights and their infringement has been blogged quite a lot. I have lived, worked, and photographed a lot in the UK (London in particular) for more than a decade. I've never had any problems in the street though to be safe I always carry THIS with me though apparently this doesn't always help.
That said, I have heard about some bad experiences and seen the proliferation of CCTV. Here's an example I found via Conscientious:
Unfortunately, things are not that much better where I come from in Washington State:
In New York where I attended the School of Visual Arts, there are moves to ban public filming and photography, and the police don't seem to be taking heed of their own printed guidelines. This editorial describes a worrying trend stemming from Guiliani's administration.
In an ideal world, all citizens would know the law of the land (and we wouldn't need lawyers) but we're aware that the volumes that make up our legal framework are too cumbersome. Still, what was once a specialist area of the law in regard to the rights of a photographer are now mainstream as cameras proliferate into our phones, laptops, and other mobile devices. These are rights for which we should all be made aware particularly those in law enforcement.
And then there are examples of photographer's being seen as a security threat in the wake of 9/11. NPR news have some examples of this(audio), also HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Increasingly, it's members of the public who instigate incidents involving the police, suspicious citizens worried about anyone with a camera. I can't help but wonder if it came to referendum, are there enough of these people to vote in favour of restricting the rights of photographers?
The links below have more detailed information on photographer's rights and THIS ARTICLE from USA Today is an interesting read. EDIT: Here is another worrying entry from Conscientious.
UK Photographer's Rights
USA Photographer's Rights
Photographer's Rights (various regions)
Photography & the Law (worldwide)
NSW Photographer's Rights (Australia)
Photographer's Rights Overview