Photography and the Law.. from a Police Officer

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by sam_justice, Sep 6, 2010.

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  1. sam_justice

    sam_justice TPF Noob!

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    As a few of you know on here I work in law enforcement in the UK. I've just received an email at work about the way Police officers are expected to deal with photographers in the UK. There is nothing confidential or sensitive in this email so I thought I'd share it.

    Guidance for Photographers

    I am writing to you in my capacity as lead for the ACPO Communications Advisory Group which sits in the Presidential Business Area.

    There have been a number of recent instances highlighted in the press where officers have detained photographers and deleted images from their cameras. I seek your support in reminding your officers and staff that they should not prevent anyone from taking photographs in public. This applies equally to members of the media and public seeking to record images, who do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places. ACPO guidance is as follows:

    · There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so
    · We need to cooperate with the media and amateur photographers. They play a vital role as their images help us identify criminals
    · We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now photographed and filmed more than ever
    · Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether for the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and it undermines public confidence in the police service
    · Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order.
     
  2. o hey tyler

    o hey tyler Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'm glad that the UK is more proactive about informing officers of the rights of photographers.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good information, and thanks for sharing!
     
  4. orb9220

    orb9220 TPF Noob!

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    "I've just received an email at work about the way Police officers are expected to deal with photographers in the UK."

    Sounds good. But do they have anyway of verifying that all officers read it?
    Curious as would like to see a in precinct list on file with all the officers signatures on it stating they read it and understand. As am concerned how many consider email memo's from the office is treated like spam?

    Don't know the procedure in U.K. as sure don't have something like this which is sorely needed to inform all Police forces around the globe. With a procedure for the public to confront individual cases of violating their rights to photograph.

    But good to know that at least the Brass is sensitive to the issue and dealing with it tho not in a more through manner.
    .
     
  5. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    I was out shooting in my hometown Saturday. I was shooting photos of a bridge that traverses one of the main train lines into NYC. I was not on the bridge more than 3 minutes when a policeman drove up and started asking me a couple of questions.
    He asked me for ID, and I politely asked him if I had done anything illegal. He stated no, but that a "package" had been found on the tracks about 100 feet from where I was photographing, which stopped all trains into and out of NYC 2 days prior. The bomb squad blewup the package. So... the police had received a call about a suspicious person at the tracks (me).
    I showed him my ID, we chatted for awhile and he told me to enjoy myself shooting for the rest of the day...which I did.
    I saw no reason to antagonize him by not showing him my ID, and I believe both of us were fine for doing so.
     
  6. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    IN my mind this is the key problem with the actions against photographers:

    "· Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether for the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and it undermines public confidence in the police service"

    From where I sit (U.S. New Jersey), police officers have a real P.R. problem from years of behavior that "undermines public confidence". The real issue is that law enforcement seem to either not realize this or choose to say "wtf do I care?" and continue on.

    Thanks for posting.
     
  7. kevholt

    kevholt TPF Noob!

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    I took a pic of a policeman in India from my bus window, it was the flash that made him spin round, run on to the bus with 3 others and drag my off the bus with a bambo stick in my face shouting that i was a terrorist, haha I'm a white guy and had deadlocks at the time....I really dont look like a terrorist apart from having a backpack i guess lol
    After looking at my pics all 300ish of them and having a good look at the ones of my ex gf naked! he let me go shouting im a basterd guy and hitting me away with his stick....

    Fun times in India lol
     
  8. PenguinPhotoWrx

    PenguinPhotoWrx TPF Noob!

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    Probably not, that's the nature of email. But is that really necessary? Is there anything to verify that all the officers have read every law and legal precedent that they are employed to enforce? That's not realistic.

    It's in the officers' best interest to be aware of, read, and follow all memos such as this as if they violate the policy they risk internal disciplinary action at least, or legal action at worst.
     
  9. o hey tyler

    o hey tyler Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It should be. I'm sure the way police handle things in the UK are different than the US. But I can tell you from first hand experience, that most police officers or "pigs" as they're affectionately know as, do not do a very good job of "protecting and serving".

    Maybe it's just the town in which I live that they have nothing better to do than to try and bust kids for smoking weed, which doesn't really endanger or harm anyone. But time after time, I see summonses in the local papers for "Possessing a smokable amount of marijuana" or something silly like that. Not just 1 or 2, but the majority are marijuana related.

    I live in a town with a big airforce base. I've taken many photos around the town, and of the airforce base. Never once has a police officer questioned me for doing so. Yet, I was in a friend's car and it took two cruisers with their spotlights pointed on his Volvo to tell him that he had a license plate light out.

    And allow me to clarify, I'm not knocking on you (the OP) or any British law enforcement. I'm just reflecting upon my experiences with the 'law' as it is.
     
  10. Heck

    Heck TPF Noob!

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    Hopefully the record gets straight with all departments in all countries. Now I don't know about India if that would help from taking a few wacks lol. Thats nuts. :lol:
     
  11. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You know, it's not actually their responsibility to protect you (that is your responsibility)... Yeah, if they saw something happening - I'm sure they would step in and do something about it though.

    Think about this...

    If it actually were their responsibility to protect you, you could sue the city if you ever got stabbed in a mugging or something...

    They only react - they don't necessarily prevent anything... (Not saying they don't try to prevent crime - but one guy can't be everywhere...)



    Anyway... It sounds like the laws in the UK are similar to the US.
    I think getting the word out to all the cops to be aware of the law as it relates to photography is a good thing. At least they realize that there is a problem, and have decided to do something to try to correct it.

    I don't know if the same can be said over here...
     
  12. kevholt

    kevholt TPF Noob!

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