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August 11, 2009

Police clarify photography laws

Category: News

New guidance published by Scotland Yard on photographers and journalists


The Met Police have issued new guidance to police officers on the use of anti-terrorism legislation against media photographers and other members of the public with cameras. 

The new guidance warns police officers to exercise caution when using stop and search powers under sections 43 and 44 Terrorism Act 2000.  It reminds them that the media and members of the public do not need a permit to photograph or film in a public place and the police have no power to stop them from doing so.  Furthermore, officers are not allowed to delete digital images or destroy film at any point during a stop and search exercise.

It reiterates that section 43 of the Act only gives an officer the power to stop and search "a person who they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist".  However, where it is clear that the person being searched is a journalist, “officers should exercise caution before viewing images as images acquired or created for the purposes of journalism may constitute journalistic material and should not be viewed without a Court Order."

The changes come after an earlier version of the guidance was criticised by the media for suggesting that the police had greater powers than they were actually granted under the law.

"Following these guidelines means both media and police can fulfil their duties without hindering each other", the new guidance states.

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