Police put in the picture regarding photographers' rights

28 June 2010

The intermaweb is rammed with stories about the Police going over the top in preventing photographers pursuing their hobby or career. See, if a terrorist is going to blow up a building, they'll begin by parading about outside in front of officers with a telephoto lens. No? Oh.

So it's nice to see somebody own up and admit the Police have no real right dicking about and stopping photographers in the street for bullshit reasons. The Press Gazette reports the Metropolitan Police has apologised to two photojournalists after officers prevented them from covering a protest.

The pair were covering the event outside the Greek Embassy in 2008, a reaction to the death of a young boy at the hands of the Greek police force. One photographer had his camera pulled from his face, the other had his lens covered and both were told they were not permitted to film them. The Metropolitan Police has now admitted the pair were unlawfully prevented from reporting and accepted liability for breaching their rights to freedom of expression; each was paid legal costs and damages of £3,500.

In recent years there have been countless incidents of the police preventing photographers from going about their business, where officers have misquoted the law or attempted to seize equipment. YouTube is littered with examples (such as the one below), so the ruling is an important victory for photographers.

18 comments

  • Steve
    WTF??? It must be a dry day for stories?? I thought Bitterwallet was about consumer hacks, tips & news from the trenches of the uk deal community, not photographers getting nabbed, LOSING FAITH IN BITTERWALLET AS A CREDIBLE BLOG.......
  • kfcws
    Pretty sure Labour changed the law to make it illegal to film a copper without their permission...... I'll have to trawl for it later
  • kfcws
    Found it http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080028_en_9#pt7-pb3-l1g76 Section 76
  • DavtT
    The police force is full of jumped up little shites as demonstrated on the fil.
  • Steve J.
    Fucking cunt...if he just said his name, they would be on their way
  • jim
    Steve, i think we went to school together.. is your middle name "hand" ?
  • Big A.
    Been stopped a few times myself whilst out shooting with my camera. I've got a 55-200mm lens that I use for a lot of landscape photography and had a policem- well, policeBOY, try and confiscate my camera because he said the lens was capable of zooming to get shots of the play-park at the bottom of the massive hill I was atop. When I showed him how far it zoomed and what I had actually been taking pictures of (horizons, panoramics of the area etc) he still tried to take it. Luckily I keep a printout of the laws governing using cameras in public places and made him read it back to me. He soon left me alone and walked off. As long as you know your rights and keep within them, you should have nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
  • NellieIrrelevant
    I love stories like this where 'police pay damages' as if it comes out of the pockets of those jumped-up officious creeps who believe the law is whatever they say it is. That money comes from us the ratepayer. So every time the coppers screw up like this, it's we who pay for it. I've come across Net debates about what rights you have if stopped by a copper while filming or photographing. The fact is, it doesn't matter what your rights are, and explaining what you think they are to the nice policeman will end up getting you nicked, with the increased probability of falling down the stairs at the station.
  • DragonChris
    In Road Wars, they are allowed to film at all times, as they are in a public place. How is it possible to position a camera anti-socially? Was he inserting it rectally? Or have it up some ladies skirt?
  • Yue
    Hmm, google has filmed everything, even restricted areas. Why would terrorist leave his home?
  • Laurz
    Any updates to the youtube video? Did the officer who abused his power get disciplined?
  • Jim
    Steve, we need to meet up. I forgive you!!!
  • Lumoruk
    re kfcws: that's armed forces and constable applies to royal military police...keep looking
  • kfcws
    re Lumoruk, fair enough.... though I thought that the constable interpretation had been taken to mean normal Police Constables as well. Always the way with the law there are at least 2 ways to view most of them
  • Nobby
    Police should be jailed if they confiscate equipment with no just cause where no laws are being broken. And maybe put into cells with webcams, so the public can see their punishment.
  • Pedant
    THE LAW IS AN ASS I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON pwnt by an ass
  • Meh
    The question is, why was this paedophile set free?
  • A p.
    I'm a photographer based in Surrey and when I do shoots in public, the thought does cross my mind about whether the police are going to turn up and confiscate my camera and kit if I'm outside a council building, or on location in London, etc. The law really does need to be clarified and made public common knowledge and I'm more than happy to hear this ruling.

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