Photography and the Law

On Wednesday evening at the local photographer’s clubhouse aka, AddTheColour, Photographer Stewart Weir gave a brief introduction to Photography and the Law. The information below was taken from my notes and are only a brief overview of what was said, however a copy of the UK Photographer’s rights can be found here.

We were joined by Sussex Police Corporate Communications and Public Engagement’s Head of Media Relations, Nick Cloke who shed some light on Section 44 and 43 of the terrorism act.

As you can see in the video, both photographers were well aware of UK photographer’s rights,
however regardless were repeatedly stopped and asked for their personal details.

Mr. Nick Cloke from Sussex Police confirmed that in the above case the officers were just being difficult as a possible result of being ill informed or nervous.
Mr. Cloke said ” We are not the taste and decency police.” Therefore section 44 and 43 can only be used when a photographer is validly suspected of terrorism.

With UK law, Photographers practically have a carte blanche to take pictures as and when they please, with or without a press pass, however having a press pass does make things just a little easier and more legit.

Police have no powers to prevent, direct or instruct photographers to stop or film in a certain way without realistic belief of suspected terrorism.

If you are ever stopped by police under section 19’s Police and Criminal act, then officers do have the right to temporary seizure of materials by force only when there are realistic prospects of media being lost or deleted by the photographer.
Police are NEVER able to request or view anything without a court order.

As a result of being approached by an officer and suspicion is further aroused by the photographer’s unwillingness to cooperate or there is viable reason for suspicion of a crime, officers will ask for your personal details for their stop and search form.

A stop and search form is only a written record in time and a written record for police logs.
This record might be moved to the national database if a photographer is eventually charged with an offense.

If you are stopped due to suspicion, and you don’t agree with the reasons given to request your personal details, you are well within your rights to request identification of the officer,
which you are then able to use when seeking recourse through the professional standards agency afterwards. Mr. Cloke did mention that it is always better to cooperate with police as this will
avoid further suspicion being raised. The last thing he wants is bad press for the force as a result of violating human rights.
Mr. Cloke further mentioned that they are working towards improving relationships between police officers and photographers, through opening channels of communication and further ongoing training.

In conclusion.
Photographers in the UK can take pictures as they please given it’s taken in a public place and that Photographers do not pass through Police cordons to take pictures unless they have permission to do so.

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