Weekly magazine Amateur Photographer has urged its readers to know their rights by giving them a free lens cloth which details police guidelines on intervening under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Amateur Photographer editor Damien Demolder said: ‘I am not exaggerating when I tell you that hardly a day goes by without some correspondence from a reader that chronicles a situation in which a photographer has been prevented from enjoying his or her hobby.
‘Many police officers and police community support officers still believe that taking photographs in a public place constitutes a suspicious activity and warrants that person be stopped, questioned, searched and sometimes even detained.”
The lens cloth details the guidance provided to all police staff by the head of Specialist Operations for the Metropolitan Police Service.
It states: ‘Whilst we must remain vigilant at all times in dealing with suspicious behaviour, staff must be clear that:
- There is no restriction on people taking photographs in public places or of any building other than in very exceptional circumstances;
- There is no prohibition on photographing frontline uniform staff;
- The act of taking a photograph in itself is not usually sufficient to carry out a stop;
- Unless there is a very good reason, people taking photographs should not be stopped;
- Officers do not have the power to delete digital images, destroy film or to prevent photography in a public place under either power (sections 43 and 44 of the terrorism Act 2000).”
Demolder said: ‘It is important for our law-abiding readers to be empowered to understand that there is no law against taking pictures in a public place in this country, and very few buildings are so sensitive that they should not be included in a picture. It is not an offence to take pictures of another person, or of a police officer or of military personnel. These are not merely my views but the official policy of the Government, police chiefs and the Minister for Counter Terrorism.’