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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Police still abusing powers on photographers

Back in August 2009 the Home Office issued new guidelines to all Chief Police Officers in the UK regarding the taking of photographs in public places.

Contrary to some popular myths it is not illegal to take photographs of landmarks or even of children in public places. However, if a police officer believes that you are acting suspiciously they have the right to challenge you and seek an explanation for your actions.

Police do not have the right to confiscate equipment with very good reason nor do they have the right to delete photographs or force the photographer to erase them.

The new guidelines said: An officer making an arrest [under section 76] must reasonably suspect that the information is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. An example might be gathering information about the person’s house, car, routes to work and other movements. [...]

It is a statutory defence for a person to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for eliciting, publishing or communicating the relevant information [Under s76]

Important: Legitimate journalistic activity (such as covering a demonstration for a newspaper) is likely to constitute such an excuse. Similarly an innocent tourist or other sight-seer taking a photograph of a police officer is likely to have a reasonable excuse.

Despite this advice one or two police officers continue to operate as if they are helping to run a police state as this article from yesterday's Western Mail illustrates:

A fanily on a sightseeing trip were stopped by police and questioned under anti-terrorism laws for taking pictures.

Neil Kitchen, 46, of Swansea, and his 24-year-old nephew were on a day trip to see Gloucester Cathedral when they say they were stopped by a police officer who demanded to see their camera.

The pair had been taking pictures of a former cinema in the city’s shopping district that had been converted into a pub.

After being questioned by the officer they were handed stop-and-search notices on which Mr Kitchen’s nephew, who has learning difficulties, was described as “acting suspiciously”

I am astonished that incidents such as this are still occurring.
lots of intersting stuff here including the useful bustcard. but not very useful for people who consider themselves tourists and snappers because they are probably not going to look aty photography sites.
Lot of architectual photographers in london geting stopped, often after private security have called the police. interestingly seems like private security were involved in escalating the stokes croft demonstarion.
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