I’m prompted to write this following a piece I read about photographers rights via Dajavue Photography here on Tumblr.
In the UK there have been many instances of photographers being stopped, their kit - including memory cards - confiscated and, in some cases, finding themselves arrested; sometimes the arrests have been made under UK terrorism legislation.
Amateur Photographer magazine (AP) is a UK-based weekly photo magazine that has waged a “Rights Watch” campaign in its pages over the past three years. Their actions have prompted debate amongst legislators and law enforcement agencies about our rights as photographers.
Dajavue is based in Canada and the article posted there is relevant to their laws; there are links from Daja’s site to the full article. I felt the need to post a link to the Metropolitan Police website and their advice to police officers and PCSO’s (Police & Community Support Officers) about UK legislation, how it affects photographers and what rights photographers have.
I will publish the first two sections from their advice so that you get a flavour of what they are saying (see below) but please remember that this advice is relevant to the UNITED KINGDOM ONLY; it does not apply in other countries. However, if you’re VISITING THE UK then it will apply to you.
You can see the full document on the Met Police website. You might like to copy and paste it into a printable format and carry it with you in case you’re stopped while you are out making your images. If you are, don’t be arrogant - politeness always counts a lot!
The Metropolitan Police Service’s approach towards photography in public places is a subject of regular debate.
We encourage officers and the public to be vigilant against terrorism but recognise the importance not only of protecting the public from terrorism but also promoting the freedom of the public and the media to take and publish photographs.
Guidance around the issue has been made clear to officers and PCSOs through briefings and internal communications. The following advice is available to all officers and provides a summary of the Metropolitan Police Service’s guidance around photography in public places.
Freedom to photograph/film
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.
“The fact that a (in the traditional sense) technically deficient photograph can have greater emotional impact than a technically flawless picture probably comes as a shock to those who are naive enough to believe that technical excellence alone is the value of a photograph”—Andreas Feininger