The Metropolitan police have issued guidelines to advice officers on photography in public places.
On their website, the Metropolitan police say: “members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel
.” It also says: “section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place
However, officers still have the power to view images if they are: “contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, provided that the viewing is to determine whether the images contained in the camera or mobile telephone are of a kind, which could be used in connection with terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism.
Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to discover whether they have in their possession anything which may constitute evidence that they are involved in terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is involved in terrorism.”
The advice also addresses Section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 which covers the offence of publishing or communicating information about members of the armed forces, intelligence services or police. Something which some photographers thought could be used to stop them photographing the police. In response, the guidelines say: “It should ordinarily be considered inappropriate to use Section 58a to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, as without more, there is no link to terrorism.
There is however nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable.”
The guidelines also state that the media influence the police's reputation so a good working relationship should be maintained. They suggest, where possible, to give the media a good vantage point at scenes, allow access to incident scenes and if a member of the public asks the police to stop the media photographing or recording them, police can ask but it does not have to be enforced.