Police powers concerning photographers.

#1
As a news cameraman I now carry a copy of a letter from Chief Constable Andrew Trotter (Chair of the APCO media advisory group) to his senior police colleagues. It may be of some interest to Arrsers:

Dear Colleagues

Guidance for Photographers

There have been a number of recent instance highlighted in the press where officers have detained photographers and deleted images from their cameras. I seek you support in reminding your officers and staff that they should not prevent anyone from taking photographs in public. This applies equally to members of the media and public seeking to record images, who do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places. ACPO guidance is as follows:

- There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so.
- We need to co-operate with the media and amateur photographers. They play a vital role as their images help us catch criminals.
- We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now photographed and filmed more than ever.
- Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether for the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and it undermines public confidence in the police service.
- Once an image has been recorded the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order.

If you require further guidance please refer to the ACPO website or contact my staff officer ***** ******,

Yours sincerely

Andrew Trotter etc.. etc..


I hope this is of some use..

BE
 

Ventress

LE
Moderator
#2
He is the Chief Constable of the Royal Railway Constabulary and this edict was put out as PCSO's mainly were running about tearing memory sticks out of train spotters cameras and stamping on them or rail staff demanding police attende from 100 miles away to stop some old chap taking photos of a train.

Unfortunately "common sense" has yet to be invented on the railways.
 
#3
Trust me when I say that it's not just railways! Uk photo websites are full of tales of woe about PCSO's overstepping their limited authority with photographers.

Worse though is the general public, they think that you need to have permission to take photos in public.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#4
Actually, it has become a big issue amongst photographers since the Terrorism Act came in, as police officers around the country had taken to using s. 43 and s. 44 to stop photographers taking pictures of all kinds of different things. Some of the most high profile cases have been in Central London, involving both the Met and the City police. All kinds of PCSOs and private security companies, as well as 'concerned private citizens' have been wading in as well, thwarting sinister foreign looking photographers attempting to take pictures of well-known potential terrorist targets like the Palace of Westminster and Tower Bridge...
 
#6
He is the Chief Constable of the Royal Railway Constabulary and this edict was put out as PCSO's mainly were running about tearing memory sticks out of train spotters cameras and stamping on them or rail staff demanding police attende from 100 miles away to stop some old chap taking photos of a train.

Unfortunately "common sense" has yet to be invented on the railways.
British Transport Police RESPONDING??!! There is an obvious flaw in your story and consequently I don't believe you.

;)
 
#8
He is the Chief Constable of the Royal Railway Constabulary and this edict was put out as PCSO's mainly were running about tearing memory sticks out of train spotters cameras and stamping on them or rail staff demanding police attende from 100 miles away to stop some old chap taking photos of a train.

Unfortunately "common sense" has yet to be invented on the railways.
I understand that his day job is at the British Transport Police and in fact I've met and filmed the bloke actually - but this letter was issued by him in his capacity as Chair of the ACPO (association of chief police officers - for the ignorant) and is supposed to provide guidance for all police officers in England Wales and Norn Ireland. I'm also aware of the rather dim view that other Constabularies take of the BTP!

We still get bothered by 'hobby-bobbies' however a suggestion that they refer their demands to a 'warranted officer' normally brings their view of our supposed offence into sharp perspective.
 
#9
Actually, it has become a big issue amongst photographers since the Terrorism Act came in, as police officers around the country had taken to using s. 43 and s. 44 to stop photographers taking pictures of all kinds of different things. Some of the most high profile cases have been in Central London, involving both the Met and the City police. All kinds of PCSOs and private security companies, as well as 'concerned private citizens' have been wading in as well, thwarting sinister foreign looking photographers attempting to take pictures of well-known potential terrorist targets like the Palace of Westminster and Tower Bridge...
Absolutely. The contract security types 'securing' government buildings around Westminster are for ever running across Horsferry Road to inform me that I'm committing treason by filming the exterior of the DOT building.
You know who you are, Pilbury boy.
 
#11
police stopped somebody takig photos of xmas lights in uckfield due to he might be a terrorist ffs.
 
#12
Gotta say, in 20+ years of togging in NI I've never had any undue bother with plod. Private security types on the other hand....
 
#13
I cant think of any situation when I have been on patrol when I have seriously considered using the anti terrorism legislation on members of the public taking pictures. It's dracionian legislation that is very effective when used by the right people at the right time but is a receipe for diaster when used by officers who dont fully understand it.
 
#14
It is fair to say there has had to be some clarification of the law. But let's not forget who wrote it so it was bound to be iffy. History has a way of re-writing it's self, if after 7/7 some PCSO or copper or lassie the wonder dog had seized cameras or memory sticks then they would have more than likely been commended by Joe public. But the passage of time does tend to ease the memory. That said there is no place for overzealousness in the interpretation of this or any law. But what if! And I am speaking hypothetically a person was checked and let go only to find later that they were recce photos for the next outrage. Would the great British public be Thankful that the checking officer took the story on face value? I think not. Bigeye I am not sure why this would be of any more or less interest to Arrsers than any other legislation and as long as you have your PRESS CARD nor should you.
 
#15
What about members of the public who are intimidated by police officers exceeding their powers. This is the whole point, it doesn't matter if you are Press or not.

What part of this do you have trouble with?

There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so
It is more than time for the Police to be prosecuted when they exceed their authority.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#16
History has a way of re-writing it's self, if after 7/7 some PCSO or copper or lassie the wonder dog had seized cameras or memory sticks then they would have more than likely been commended by Joe public. But the passage of time does tend to ease the memory. That said there is no place for overzealousness in the interpretation of this or any law. But what if! And I am speaking hypothetically a person was checked and let go only to find later that they were recce photos for the next outrage.
Do suicide bombers really bother with detailed photographic recces of their targets? And would they do it in a way that was different from tourists, press photographers, art students etc taking photographs of the same objects? And would you be able to foil a terrorist outrage by simply getting a jack-in-office PCSO or private security guard to confiscate a memory card from a suspect, rather than arresting or surveilling him? Strangely, all of these questions share a common answer.
 
#17
'police stopped somebody takig photos of xmas lights in uckfield due to he might be a terrorist ffs.'

Brighton Hippy - it happened in Burgess Hill, they were PCSOs and he was a professional photographer. They certainly demanded to take his camera and I think that they wiped his memory card. The incident did, however, get national coverage and resulted in 'clarification' from senior plod.

The Terrorism Act has been responsible for a number of overzealous incidents by the police - most notably 500 people detained at the Liarbour party conference in Brighton, one whose heinous crime was to be wearing a teeshirt with 'Bugger Blair' printed on it. At the same conference, poor old Walter Wolfgang was forcibly ejected by hired heavies for heckling Jack Straw. He was refused re-entry by the invocation of (yes, you've guessed it) the Terrorism Act.
 
#18
It is known that the IRA used to do detailed recces of potential targets. Whether or not the average suicide bomber does a recce before joining his virgins at around 7000 km / sec depends, I suppose, on the dedication of him and his organisation. But lets face it, all the public and historic buildings in London and elsewhere have been photographed since cameras were invented and you can buy picture post cards, slides, illustrated books etc of most of them. Prolly the most useful thing a prospective sb or his team could do is a route recce. But you can buy street maps freely just about anywhere. And there are cheap GPS units available complete with maps of the whole of UK, at Halfords, Argos and on ebay, etc. The actions of plod in confiscating cameras, film, memory sticks etc, simply because the owner is filming in a public place is akin to them arresting someone for wearing a "loud" tie.
 
#19
What about members of the public who are intimidated by police officers exceeding their powers. This is the whole point, it doesn't matter if you are Press or not.

What part of this do you have trouble with?



It is more than time for the Police to be prosecuted when they exceed their authority.
They should be reprimanded no doubt about it and if the circumstances require prosecuted. This is unlikely to happen now though as S44 has been withdrawn.
 
#20
Multiple points to address here:-

ACPO DIRECTIONS REGARDING PHOTOGRAPHY
No need to print anything out. Simply grab yourself a copy of July's edition of Amateur Photographer. It includes a free lens cleaning cloth with the directions printed on it. LINK

THEY CAN'T ARREST YOU FOR TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS IN PUBLIC
True. But they can stop, search and/or arrest you for any number of other reasons. I've seen photographers in public places refusing to delete photographs then being arrested on the basis that they might be wanted criminals and they need to be arrested to "ascertain their identity". The last government effectively gave the police the authority to arrest people for no reason and a minority of police officers abuse this authority to harass the public.

BUT YOU MIGHT BE A TERRORIST
300,000 stop and searches were carried out last year under the Terrorism Act. Not one terrorism conviction was obtained. Last Christmas, round my way, a Nigerian PCSO "arrested" and physically restrained a bloke on suspicion of terrorism for taking photos of a Z list celebrity turning on the Christmas lights. Forget that this PCSO could barely speak English. He was walking the streets in uniform without realising that he had no powers to arrest on suspicion.

ONE LAW FOR US ...
One incident that I'm aware of last year involved a bloke being stopped and searched for drugs in a tube station. His girlfriend took some photos with her phone. The police responded by putting her on the deck and handcuffing her to a railing. They refused to identify themselves and literally ran off after they released the woman. The two constables who did this were eventually identified, they were given "words of advice" and the woman was offered an apology. Had the roles been reversed and a suspected druggie beat a police officer to the ground before tying her up, he'd currently be doing three years.
 

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