London Police Deliver Photography Guidelines

In an effort to compromise with photographers and journalists who make their living recording public events/people London's Metropolitan Police department released a statement outlining their recommendations and considerations for photography.


The statement addressed issues related to terrorism by stating: "We encourage officers and the public to be vigilant against terrorism but recognize the balance between effective policing and protecting Londoners and respecting the rights of the media and the general public to take photographs." And 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 "...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."

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."


"In short, photographers and journalists who photograph police or military must be cognizant of how law enforcement personnel will respond. The police recognize that the media can shape public opinion of the department's reputation and do suggest that officers allow photographers access and vantage points at incident scenes whenever possible.

Go to: for the complete statement.

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Filed under: Photo News July 17, 2009
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