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Photography law e-petition response

Government respond to photographers petition to clarify the laws surrounding photography in public places.

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Number 10 logoFor sometime the law has said it is perfectly legal to take photos in public places but still photographers faced problems when they tried to participate in their favourite hobby.

The National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) created new guidelines on stop-and-search policies to clarify the law and now the Government have also said that photography in public places is legal.

The information came in response to an e-petition that is on the Governments website asking them to: "Clarify the laws surrounding photography in public places."

The Government said:

"Thank you for your e-petition asking for clarification of the law on photography in public places.

There are no legal restrictions on photography in public places. However, the law applies to photographers as it does to anybody else in a public place. So there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations, inflame an already tense situation, or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace, to avoid a public order situation, or for the person's own safety or welfare, or for the safety and welfare of others.

Each situation will be different and it would be an operational matter for the police officer concerned as to what action if any should be taken in respect of those taking photographs. Anybody with a concern about a specific incident should raise the matter with the Chief Constable of the relevant force."

We will have to wait and see if the response makes a difference, in the meantime what are your thoughts on the subject? Do you think the Governments response and the NPIA's guidelines are helping?

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Comments


MattGrayson 15 622 3 England
13 Jan 2009 11:46AM
I think it's still the same as before. They're saying what we already know. It's legal but you could be stopped.

I reckon it's common sense. If they ask you to move and have a valid reason for it, then move. If they don't have a valid reason or are being arrogant, point out your rights.

Don't push them into an argument and I don't think you'll get one. Smile
CanonMan 21 588 4 England
13 Jan 2009 11:47AM

Quote:Each situation will be different and it would be an operational matter for the police officer concerned as to what action if any should be taken in respect of those taking photographs.


So it's down to the individual officer to make the decision whether or not he will allow someone to take a photo or not. Don't see how this is any different to the current situation. There will still be officers that say "you can't take photos" and if you try to argue otherwise, they'll arrest you for breach of the peace or some other reason.
MattGrayson 15 622 3 England
13 Jan 2009 1:44PM
If that happens then it's unlikely they're following the rules and then you sue. Smile
13 Jan 2009 5:12PM
this government is so controlling at the moment. Its pretty is disgusting , rights being slowly taken away from us.
i for one will still be taking photographs on the street.
14 Jan 2009 11:20AM
I've signed several of these E petitions and the responses always leave me feeling as though I were a five year old that had just been patted on the head and told to go play as Mummy knows best.
I don't think they're worth the pixels it takes to display them.

One thing that would be useful is if someone like yourselves could print up a card with the "rules for engagement" printed on it so if the worst happens we are partly lawyered up when challenged.
Just Jas Plus
20 26.4k 1 England
18 Jan 2009 1:04PM

Quote:This government is so controlling at the moment. Its pretty is disgusting , rights being slowly taken away from us.
i for one will still be taking photographs on the street.



The current state of terrorism forces these restrictions upon us.

It would appear that the terrorists are winning in their struggle to force us into the kind of state and society that they impose upon their own people.
jas
strokebloke 13 493 17 England
18 Jan 2009 10:34PM

Quote:It would appear that the terrorists are winning in their struggle to force us into the kind of state and society that they impose upon their own people.
jas



No Jas - it is the politicians & the nanny-state-ists who are coercing the general public into social capitulation. It's got nothing to do with terroists.
col.campbell 19 1.4k 4 United Kingdom
20 Jan 2009 3:49PM
I've never been stopped by police while taking photos; however I've had one or two people try to tell me I "can't" take a photo of their shop (from outside)/ car or whatever. I imagine things are worse down south and more so in London, what say all of you?

In the meantime my suggestion is that we all carry on as normal while defending ourselves calmly and politely and staunchly but without provoking the police into an argument if such an occasion arises. Of course the police have to justify their actions there and then, and afterwards, but if I were to find myself on the wrong end of a questioning my first priority besides retaining my images and equipment, would be retaining my liberty, so needless antagonism for sport would have to take a back seat.
MrTooth 17 17 England
23 Jan 2009 2:24AM

Quote:Each situation will be different and it would be an operational matter for the police officer concerned as to what action if any should be taken in respect of those taking photographs.


Yeah, no change there then. Nice and detailed, no room for error of interpretation - essentially it's up to the police officer in question and the demands of the 'situation'.

I also signed the e-petition (democracy in action, eh?) and though the advice (taken as it is without further dissection) can certainly be read as sensible and reasonable, it still doesn't clarify photographers' rights in situations where their images may be examined/forcibly deleted/(equipment) confiscated or whatnot.

All that is said seems to be police have the power to prevent you taking pictures of anything they like really, to move you on or arrest you if you don't comply. Of course, we're all reasonable citizens or feel we are but where do you draw the line on what you can and cannot photograph, and more insidiously for what reasons?

Citizen-journalism has become a popular activity over recent years and some of the most poignant pictures were taken in circumstances of great turmoil and distress, the London Underground bombings and more recently the Hudson river plane crash. Obviously there's a common sense element of bystanders not impeding proper handling of emergency situations, but really we're straight back to where we began by asking the government for greater clarity on police powers and rights of photographers. And if you don't like it you can take the arduous route of formally complaining, that is after you leave the area and put your camera away. Conform or else!

"Move along please." Sounds like a good idea to me. :/
nickh158 14 19 England
23 Jan 2009 2:44PM
I think one of the worst cases I read of recently was the Polish tourist who was successfully prosecuted in Scotland for taking a photo of a woman who was so drunk that she`d fallen over. The police had managed to "prove" some sort of sexual connotation to the guy`s motive, when in fact all he wanted to do was show the folks back home the sorry state of a society in which people think it`s OK to get falling down drunk on the street. We live in a nasty, paranoid, cynical little country where "terrorism" is used as an excuse to harass anyone from photographers to politicians despite having little or no reason to do so. I believe I am the official enemy of the state; I`m middle-aged, white and male. Worse, I carry a big camera, which occasionally has a long lens attached. I am, therefore, a terrorist and/or a pervert.
MattGrayson 15 622 3 England
23 Jan 2009 3:20PM
brothers in arms! Wink
MattGrayson 15 622 3 England
23 Jan 2009 3:21PM

Quote:I've signed several of these E petitions and the responses always leave me feeling as though I were a five year old that had just been patted on the head and told to go play as Mummy knows best.
I don't think they're worth the pixels it takes to display them.

One thing that would be useful is if someone like yourselves could print up a card with the "rules for engagement" printed on it so if the worst happens we are partly lawyered up when challenged.



We're trying to get a lawyer to sort all the legality of it for us. I'll keep on it. Smile
Paul-Collins 14 13 United Kingdom
25 Jan 2009 8:49PM
I emailed my area head of police in Cambridge, and was suprise at his reply, "He couldn't understand the reason I wrote, he didn't have any probelm, with photographers taking pictures in public places, he did say there were certain places, they wouldn't like pictures taken , RAF Bases USAF Airbases, Military in general , unless on public shows, certain goverment personalties, how ever in everyday there is no probelm, for me I have no interest in the above apart from airshows at duxford, and I certsainly would not go poking around air bases ect, he also said in his email , if an officer ask me to move on, to follow his instructions,if it's deemed not a good place to be. Which seems fair enough to me.
jazzygf 19 537 Scotland
28 Jan 2009 7:46PM
Am Ithe only one who thinks that it aint the guy with the big camera standing in front of you setting up the perfect photographic shot you should be looking out for? But the sneakey wee sod with the mobile camera flashing away taking shots of everything and anything.
One is a photographer the other may be anything terrorist, or pedo
29 Jan 2009 10:26AM
Unfortunately this information does not pass down to the bobby on the beat (if you can find one) even less so to the chocolate fire guards dressed as police officers, sorry PCSO's. Use of the Terrorism Act is not only used by the Police but all sorts of council jobsworths with an ounce of 'authority'. As usual the No 10 answer is typical government speak which actually says not a lot.
As long as you are in a public place, keep taking the pictures.
As jazzygf says, it is not the guy with the tripod and big camera bag. Just how many people have camera phones with lots of pixels with a capacity to wirelessly send the images!!!!
SteveBB 17 31 United Kingdom
12 Feb 2009 9:40PM
I and a few other EPZ members have incurred the wrath of security staff a few times during our outings. Centre of Leeds close to the outdoor ice skating rink (seasonal attraction), outside the Royal Armouries in Leeds and also outside the GMEX in Manchester.

In each case the group of us remained polite and once we got into conversation and showed these guys the photographs we were taking it took the tension out of the challenge and in each case we were allowed to continue.

You think the police on the beat are confused - these security guys are even more in the dark !

Bottom line, if you can - show them the photographs you have taken and they "might" let you carry on without further ado.

Steve
RobRi 16 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2009 10:59AM
Once again, this nanny state uses any excuse to restrict our lawful activities. What hypocrisy when there are so many CCTV cameras in the streets, inside most buildings and on public transport.

Granted, some of these may be used in the fight against crime, but even more frequently, images from these sources have been used to prosecute the VICTIMS of crime and abuse instead of the offenders!

A few years ago, I suffered disturbance, abuse and even death threats from yob and junkies near my home and, after installing CCTV and sending copies of the tapes of incidents to the Landlords, the Council and even the Chief Constable of this area, the only response that I got was a signed petition from those causing the trouble about MY CCTV violating THEIR Human Rights!

We Are All Doomed!
Until I am challenged, I shall continue to take my photographs and to uphold MY human rights!!!

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