221 thoughts on “Bust Card

  1. Carl

    A definition of “obstructing a police constable” would be useful as this seems to be a catch-all they use to arrest people.

  2. Matt

    The card mentions your right to withold your name, address and other personal info. This may not be wise, as it could give the officer grounds to formally escalate your stop/search and arrest you.

    Please be aware of the following:

    Under Code G of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, as substituted by Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which describes statutory powers of arrest in the UK, you can be arrested if the constable thinks you have/are or will commit an offence (a ‘reasonable suspicion’ grounded test) AND: to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person’s name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name),[OR to act] correspondingly as regards the person’s address (sections 2.9a and 2.9b of Code G).

    Even when the stop/search seems egregious, being polite and straightforward with your questioners can pay dividends (avoid arrest!).

    1. A Photographer Post author

      You are quite right and there is a balance to be struck between your rights – Not telling them anything – and what might be advisable – being helpful, giving your name etc.

      We decided that the card should just state your rights, mainly so the card could be kept to a reasonable (wallet) size.

      It is a horrible catch-22 where it is your right not to disclose your name but in doing so you raise suspicion further so that the officer may have grounds for arrest.

  3. MB

    What is normally the attitude of the police officer if you make detailed notes of the encounter?

    I have wondered if someone could produce a form that could be filled in, with prompts for questions to ask to police officer and place to record the replies (or lack of reply). It could include a checklist as above.

    1. David Murray

      This was covered by ex-MP Bill Pitt in the advice he gave to readers of Amateur Photographer magazine about 4 years ago. He stated that you should use a mobile phone to contact someone to tell them where you were and what had happened to you-e.g. having been stopped by police for using a camera in a public place. Some idiot of a police officer wrote up afterwards to state that this was not a helpful suggestion as it would be seen as hindering the officer who stopped you. However, Bill Pitt replied that you were well within your rights to do this as, at that time, you were not under arrest and therefore still a free person. As I see it, this deals with your point. I feel that you have made a very good point and are proposing taking matters further than I had planned to do, e.g. make notes at the time. I shall certainly look into what I can put on my own stop and search form.

      As an aside, I have previously written that I make certain that I carry nothing at all on me with my identity on. I shall refuse to give my name etc but will indicate my readiness to comply with a search. It is important to note that if you supply your details, it is recorded on the PNC that you were stopped on suspicion of ‘taking photos of children,’ ‘taking photos for terrorists,’ etc and this can be very damaging in the event that you are required to apply for an enhanced criminal records bureau check – needed even to work in a charity shop.
      Best wishes David Murray mediapixdave@hotmail.com

  4. PIppi

    I also believe that male officers aren’t supposed to pat down females as this could be dubbed “Sexual harassment” and so a female officer has to be present or actually do the pat down search herself. The pat down search is quite… rough as it were. They really like to feel for the weapons **rolls eyes**

    1. A Photographer Post author

      This is indeed the case:

      A search of a person under this section must be carried out by someone of the same sex.

      s43.3 – Terrorism Act 2000

      And PACE guidelines also state:

      3.6 Where on reasonable grounds it is considered necessary to conduct a more thorough search (e.g. by requiring a person to take off a T-shirt), this must be done out of public view, for example, in a police van unless paragraph 3.7 applies, or police station if there is one nearby.

      Any search involving the removal of more than an outer coat, jacket, gloves, headgear or footwear, or any other item concealing identity, may only be made by an officer of the same sex as the person searched and may not be made in the presence of anyone of the opposite sex unless the person being searched specifically requests it.

      3.7 Searches involving exposure of intimate parts of the body must not be conducted as a routine extension of a less thorough search, simply because nothing is found in the course of the initial search. Searches involving exposure of intimate parts of the body may be carried out only at a nearby police station or other nearby location which is out of public view (but not a police vehicle).

      Police and Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice – Code A (PDF)

  5. Watching Them, Watching Us

    Since you are unlikely to have access to your mobile phone or PDA electronic contact book, if you are arrested (as the Police will be trying to snoop through this for “Intelligence gathering” purposes), you should also write down, or print out (or memorise) the 24 / 7 contact phone numbers, for a couple of firms of solicitors, who are experienced in criminal arrest procedures and human rights appeals.

  6. Cha

    Re the police right to view your images in limited circumstances, what does that mean for people using film cameras? Does that suggest we are off that particular hook or have police tended to ‘borrow’ film to assure themselves theres nothing untoward going on?

    1. A Photographer Post author

      An interesting question, we’ve not heard of this happening to anyone yet but presumably in order to the view images the police would have to seize the film and have it developed. There is no mention of film in the act in relation to seizing and viewing images so the only thing contrary to this would be guidance issued by individual forces on the use of s44 Stop & Search powers.

  7. BRian

    Do these rights etc. apply all over the UK, or are there regional differences? I am thinking, specifically about Scottish Law. Ta.

    1. A Photographer Post author

      The Terrorism Act 2000 applies to the whole of the UK as well as some parts whose jurisdiction extends globally, as such your rights when stopped and searched are the same.

      There may be other laws that restrict photography or the publication of images such as privacy law that differ in Scotland.

      See: Terrorism Act 2000

  8. Mike

    How can you reconcile “you do not have to comply with any attempt to photograph you” with “obstructing a police constable acting under s44 is a criminal offence”? At what point does non-compliance with an unreasonable request become obstruction?

    Some elaboration on the “very limited circumstances” under which a policeman is allowed to view your images would be nice as well.

    Also, it seems that if you were to refuse to let a policeman see images on your camera (and perhaps if you didn’t delete them when asked) he can use his power to “seize any article he reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism” to confiscate it anyway. How would you avoid that?

    1. A Photographer Post author

      You would be required to remove anything concealing your identity e.g. a mask or hood. There is no law that requires you to be photographed by the police whilst you are being stopped and searched, the police’s right to take photographs is equal to anybody else’s right to take photographs in a public place. But you do not have to actively comply by looking at the camera or you could cover your face with your hand, attempting to block the police’s camera however would probably be considered obstruction.

      I think the Met Police advice on photography and s44 answers your last two questions, albeit not very satisfactorily:

      Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S44 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.

      Officers do not have the power to delete digital images or destroy film at any point during a search.

      Metropolitan Police Photography Advice
      See also: Guardian Liberty Clinic – Search and SeizurePhotography in public places

  9. mawt

    As a solicitor-to-be (training contract please?) i can safely say that a lot of the information on the card forms *bad* advice. I would be much happier if it was rewritten by an active criminal advocate or barrister.

    1. A Photographer Post author

      The card is not intended to be a substitute for full legal advice, simply a statement of your rights that you can print off and carry with you.

      As mentioned above when it comes to a confrontation with the law there is a balance to be struck between your right not to tell the police who you are and what your doing and being helpful, polite and telling them who you are and what you’re doing.

      The card has been compiled by photographers with many years of experience dealing with the powers police often use against photographers along with a practising lawyer advising on the various legal issues.

      But there is an interesting discussion to be had about your rights vs. sensible advice when dealing with the police.

  10. MattMan

    I think the thing to remember herre is that we have nothing to hide, and therefore nothing to gain by not co-operating with the police. I am more than happy to let the police look through my pics, why would I not be? I’d even help him understand how the camera works so he could brows through to his hearts content. Shure he can have my name and address, I have nothing to hide, I am just a photographer wondering arround taking pics. Surely being friendly and complient is the best way to avoid trouble……. No?

    1. A Photographer Post author

      There may be circumstances in which you may not want an officer looking through your images, in public order situations or perhaps if you had some personal photographs on the camera. Journalists especially should not share their unpublished material with authorities and as such journalistic material is offered specific protection under PACE.

      In most cases it may be perfectly reasonable to show an officer your images to explain what you are doing, however, unless authorisation under s44 of the Terrorism Act has been given for the area they have no legal right to view images and there is absolutely no law which allows the police to delete images.

      1. nick j

        “there is absolutely no law which allows the police to delete images” – the gag here is that the cop tells _you_ to delete the images or you’ll get a load of hassle (arrest, whatever). So the cop hasn’t deleted the images, you agreed to delete them yourself. It is situations like this where you have to decide whether you are going to become a human rights activist or not.

        1. danh

          If the Police tell you to delete images and you refuse, that isn’t grounds for arrest. There are either grounds for arrest or their aren’t. Your having the images on your camera hasn’t changed in either circumstance. You either get arrested up front for having them, or you don’t. You can’t be arrested for refusing to delete them.

    2. Grahamm


      > think the thing to remember herre is that we have nothing to hide

      No, the important thing to remember here is that under English Common Law you have the Right to Go About Your Lawful Business Without Let or Hindrence.

      You also have the Right to be Presumed Innocent Unless Proven Guilty.

      I do not have to *prove* I am not a Terrorist. I do not have to comply with any jumped up little Hitler or Plastic Plod who decides (wrongly) that they have the right to hassle me simply because I am exercising my lawful right to take photographs in a public place.

      This Government has already whittled away many of our basic rights and civil liberties and simply knuckling under (let alone trotting out the tired and false “nothing to hide” rhetoric) just means that they and the Police will *continue* to take away our liberties.

      PS If you have nothing to hide, why do you have curtains…?

  11. Donald Redlingshafer

    How do I organize this same movement in the U.S.A. as there have been similar instances here. Not near as many but they are increasing. I was questioned just getting some footage of a historic steam engine on tour of the western U.S.
    Note I’ve never organized anything like this before so I can use as much coaching and incite as can be provided.

    1. Glenn James

      Donald I am an amateur photographer. I am going to carry the UK card until I find an American version.
      Let me know how I can help.
      Glenn James

  12. Another photographer

    Just wanted to second mawt’s comments…really would make sense to have this looked over by a lawyer specialising in this…safer all round no?

  13. Graeme

    I think it would be useful on this page to describe what is “s44 of the Terrorism Act 2000″ and when does it apply. In other words, when do the rights on the card apply?

    1. A Photographer Post author

      S44 of the Terrorism Act allows the police and the Home Secretary to define any area in the country as well as a time period wherein they could stop and search any vehicle or person, and seize “articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism” without first having grounds for suspecting the person is a terrorist or is carrying any articles that might be useful to a terrorist.

      So your rights under s44 would apply whenever you are stopped and searched under s44.

  14. Jellied Eel

    On the police’s rights to photograph us, this is something I’ve tried to get clarification on. If no offence has occured, ie a stop and search with NFA, then the police don’t appear to have any rights to take our images.

    Or store them, process them, transfer them to a commercial database operator, so same image rights as any stock library would seem to apply.

    So I’d been thinking of making a compact model release form for any prospective police/security photographer to complete. Seems reasonable, if the police are supposed to have the same rights as us for working in public.

  15. BenM

    Regarding the right of the police to photograph the public…

    The police photographer has the same right as any other ‘tog’ – he/she can take whatever pictures they like providing photography isn’t prohibited by act of Parliament (Govt. buildings, Telephone Exchanges, Military installations etc).

    Unfortunately OUR right to take pictures of them has recently been curtailed by law.

    1. A Photographer Post author

      Not a daft question at all. s76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the 2000 act as follows:

      A person commits an offence if—
      (a) he collects, makes a record of, publishes, communicates or attempts to elicit information about a person to whom this section applies which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
      (b) he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind.

      (2) This section applies to a person who is or has been—
      (a) a constable,
      (b) a member of Her Majesty’s Forces,
      (c) the holder of a judicial office,
      (d) an officer of any court, or
      (e) employed in the prison service in Northern Ireland.

      (3) In this section “record” includes a photographic or electronic record.

      Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

      A constable is the legal definition of a police officer (not a PCSO however) so technically it is an offence to photograph a police officer or even an ex-police officer.

      However, we are unaware of anyone who has been arrested or charged for this offence, although it has been threatened against press photographers on two occasions.

      1. Paul

        “A constable is the legal definition of a police officer (not a PCSO however) so technically it is an offence to photograph a police officer or even an ex-police officer.”

        Well this is not correct according to the information you posted it is NOT an offence to photograph a police officer or even an ex-police officer unless it is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

        Whilst this is open to interpretation it is unlikely a court would deem a simple picture of a Police officer useful to a terrorist, the Police might like us to think this but it is simply nonsense. In conjunction with the new guidelines it would likely be considered an offence if you followed a Police Officer home and photographed him entering his house or took extensive footage of Police patrol routes etc.

  16. Jason Sheldon

    >(3) In this section record includes a photographic or electronic record.

    So if I ask a police officer for their warrant card number and shoulder number, and their name – then store it as a note in my iphone, I’m committing an offence under s76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008???

    and so are all the local papers who publish photos of plods in the community along with their names?

    1. A Photographer Post author

      Technically – Yes.

      If the officer believes that the information ‘is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind.‘ (S76 Counter-Terrorism Act 2008) Then there could be grounds for arrest. This is however a very unlikely scenario and no-one has been arrested under s76 that we are aware of, although it’s use has been threatened against photographers on two occasions.

      Interestingly if the CPS ever decided to proceed with such a case, when it came to court the normal of burden of proof is reversed so that you would have to prove that you are not a terrorist and that collecting such information is not likely ‘to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.’

      1. Paul

        Technically – Yes.

        If the officer believes that the information ‘is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind.‘ (S76 Counter-Terrorism Act 2008) Then there could be grounds for arrest. This is however a very unlikely scenario and no-one has been arrested under s76 that we are aware of, although it’s use has been threatened against photographers on two occasions.

        Isn’t the relevant statement here “is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. The badge number and name of a police officer is not likely to be covered by this. It is after all information we are expected to take when dealing with the police. Taking a phone picture of their shoulder number is more accurate than writing it down…

    2. Jim Westlake

      It need not be recorded electronically for you to have committed an offence. Simply writing it down is enough.

  17. Ted

    Great website.

    The neo-totalitarian tendencies in our socity is becoming more and more scary for every year.

    My proposal is to step up the protests and that we all take to the streets on the same day and spend the entire day taking as many pictures of police officers as possible.

    Gandhi managed to use civil disobedience, why shouldn’t we.

    1. jonny

      Ted says: “we all take to the streets on the same day and spend the entire day taking as many pictures of police officers as possible.”

      great idea.

  18. Carl

    What’s the obligation to tell you what their “reasonable suspicion” is? Anyone know?

    Strikes me thay can simply say they have reasonable suspicion and do what they want. Can you challenge/argue the point?

  19. David

    Re A Photographer and s76 amendment 2008

    If I can’t photograph a constable, then also the constable cannot photograph me for the same reason, as I was a member of the armed forces until 37 years ago!

  20. Alan

    I have been taking photographs of buses in the street for nearly half a century across Europe and Africa, but mainly in the UK.
    It is only in the past 10 years that I have had problems from the odd bus driver (the occasional salute with twin digits) and the Boys in Blue (or should that be Person in Blue?) I insist on the police looking at the photos. When they eventually decide they have seen enough of my 4GB memory card I’ll pursue them, to make sure they don’t miss the Volvo B12M with Plaxton bodywork, or the Neoplan Skyliner, or the Scania N112 doubledecker, or ….
    It even works with the French riot police…

  21. Ash Man

    I reside in China and am shocked at the extent of Police powers in the UK. Everytime I return to the UK I actually find it much much more restrictive than communist China. It really is quite shocking. Is it any wonder why people like me are emigrating from these islands in search of freedom.

    1. Glenn James

      I too have traveled to and noticed the freedom of the Chinese people . Unlike America, In China you can go through a whole day with out breaking a law. And look China now owns America!

  22. William

    If deleting images will get you out of a hole, just do it!

    Don’t write anything else to the memory card [ie replace it with a spare if you want to take more photos]. Then when you get home you can just run some recovery software and hey presto! the images are back.


    1. A Photographer Post author

      Whilst this is a technically feasible solution, we would strongly condemn this action.

      It may ‘get you out of a hole’ but it allows the police to think that it’s Ok to go around deleting photographers images. We need to challenge their behaviour and stand up for our rights.

      1. Stefan

        I have to second ‘Photographer’ here. The problem is that bowing to the pressure of th police only gives them grounds to do it again, and again, and again… until you look up and realise that you don’t have any rights left whatsoever.

        So no, refuse to delete the images, and if you are working in an accredited capacity, invoke PACE. Of course that does mean that you have to show your press card etc… but nonetheless they will back off (well generally they do). As amateur photographers, let them see the images, but again, refuse to delete them because you are not required to.

  23. Bob Farrer

    The police can not ask you to delete images.If they are deemed legal they have no grounds to make such a request. If images are illegal their deletion would amount to destroying evidence which is an offence I believe!

  24. David Murray

    The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 section 3 subsection 3 clearly states that a constable must ask for a persons name but cannot detain a person if he is unwilling to provide it. On a record of stop and search, a constable inserts a description of that person if the person will not provide his name. This is confirmed in the code of practice at code A section 4.2. As regards the Terrorism Act, a constable has to have good grounds for suspecting that a person is a terrorist, is undertaking some activity likely to be a substantial assistance to a terrorist or carrying articles for use in an act of terrorism. As Lord Carlile has said, this is a high bar.

    A point that is often overlooked is this: Time and again we hear of people stopped, searched and, on occasions, actually arrested. We never hear of anyone being prosecuted. The people who are arrested are later released without charge and police comment that ‘no further action is being taken.’ It would seem that the person arrested is too traumatised by the arrest to take any action themselves against the police for what appears to be an unlawful arrest.

    As for me, I shall rely on the provisions of PACE s3 (3) to decline to provide my name etc and always make sure that I have nothing on me to enable same to be discovered. If arrested, I shall have grounds to sue for unlawful arrest and will have a good holiday in Corfu from the resultant damages.

    An aside here, discretion is the better part of valor. I now look round before taking my Leica out of my pocket and taking a quick snap before returning it. I then move away from the area. I know Humberside Police have stated that they will act against ‘covert photography’ but I prefer my discretion.

  25. Harmit Kambo

    Very good stuff, thanks. There are two things that I think would not just be useful, but essential for you to clarify, to make it a more effective bust card:

    1. You say the police are entitled to ‘seize any article he reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism’. In effect this means they can seize anything and everything from your camera equipment through to your pencil! If this is actually the case, then the wording is fine. But if their powers are actually narrower, it would be great if you could tighten the wording.

    2. in terms of taking photographs of/at airports and other private property. Are you allowed to take photographs of private property if you are taking the photos while you are standing on public property? Whether the answer is yes or no, it would be useful to clarify this.

    Many thanks


    1. A Photographer Post author

      1. They can indeed seize anything, s45.2 of the Terrorism Act 2000 states:

      A constable may seize and retain an article which he discovers in the course of a search by virtue of section 44(1) or (2) and which he reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism.

      2. There are two parts to this which are covered by separate laws. Private Property as stated on the second side of the bust card:

      Private property owners may impose restrictions on photography, this only applies to photographs taken from somewhere on their property. Restrictions may not always be obvious but will still apply. They cannot be imposed after the photography has occurred.

      You can photograph private property if you are on public property or a public right of way

      Airports are a slightly trickier area, many have their own bylaws which may restrict photography, Heathrow for example has one. However you can usually ask the airport operator for permission to take photographs and it will be allowed, if you are taking pictures for commercial purposes you may have to pay a fee. Some airports have designated viewing galleries where photography of airplanes and airfields is allowed.

      See: Filming and Photography at Heathrow

      We are currently trying to track down all the Bylaws in force at airports around the country.

  26. anon y mouse

    Why delete pictures?

    I agree with Bob Farrer #26.

    If you delete images you will also be deleting evidence, something that might be worth pointing out to anybody who tells you to do so.

    Also, images are property under copyright law, so if they want them, surely they have to give a proper receipt and keep them safe.

    @ Harmit Kambo #28
    You can take photographs of private property provided you are standing on public property, such as a footpath but it might not be sensible to take too many pictures close to an busy international airport.

  27. Hugh

    It would be very interesting, after being stopped, to then search that forces website/ local newspaper for a picture of/information about the officer in question, as most if not all seem to have either info pages for the community bobby or if they have been heroes in the past – picture and name of the officer in question

  28. Tom

    @Harmit “1. You say the police are entitled to ’seize any article he reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism’. In effect this means they can seize anything and everything from your camera equipment through to your pencil! If this is actually the case, then the wording is fine. But if their powers are actually narrower, it would be great if you could tighten the wording.”

    It means what it says. They can seize anything but they MUST have a reasonable suspicion, they can’t just seize anything on a fishing exercise. I would imagine the courts would require the evidence to give suspicion about a pencil case to be much higher than suspicion for a detonator.

    “Private property owners may impose restrictions on photography, this only applies to photographs taken from somewhere on their property. Restrictions may not always be obvious but will still apply. They cannot be imposed after the photography has occurred.”

    If they do impose a restriction, the only power they have is to make you leave using no more than reasonable force, and/or bring a civil action for tresspass. They still cannot seize or delete any pictures.

  29. Spiro Ozer

    The card states “if the police decide there are reasonable grounds to arrest you for an offence, you do have to give your name and address”.

    Which clause of which statute creates an offence of withholding your name and address when arrested?

  30. Stuart Stott

    I have had no hassle with the police but a jumped up Edinburgh Parking Attendant recently accosted me in the street claiming that I could not take photographs of him doing his job ( I was in fact photographing other street life at the time ) I then did take a few photographs of the deranged man and after saying I could not take his picture the total dimwit produced his own camera and started to photograph me with it!! I have the pic’s available to anyone wishing them, very humorous they are too.

  31. Stuart Stott

    I must say however after my last comment the police in Edinburgh are very good, I don’t know if it’s because we have tourists all year round photographing our historical and very beautiful city but I’ve not heard of or witnessed anyone being hassled for taking pic’s and that includes hotspots such as the castle, the palace, the parliament, city chambers etc. I myself take quite a few photo’s of the police going about their duty and very openly so as well.

  32. Kevin Hunt

    Although I regard myself as pretty au fait with the ways of our increasingly Orwellian country, I have been horrified to read some of these comments. This is what I wrote in response to the following two comments on a LinkedIn BBC thread recently :

    Picking up on the previous writer’s comments – “So basically the terrorism law is being used to stop law abiding cameramen and women from going about there lawful ways, that’s not the law in this country but hey we are English and we do what we are told. Don’t we?”

    “The issue is this: No law enforcement officer or agency has the lawful right to stop a member of the public or professional to stop someone in the street from filming or taking photographs. Full stop”.

    We MUST fight back, speak and write to our MPs, the Home Office, the PM, ACPO etc to get them to understand that this is not what Britain is all about and only does the potential terrorists job for them. We have fought long and hard over many centuries for our freedoms and if the people we elect to represent us(!), or those who act on their behalf, such as the police, do not understand this then they are not worthy of their positions and should step aside.

    Let us see the BBC, other broadcasters and the great British ‘free Press’ fight back and espouse the cause of our freedom to go about our law abiding activities unmolested, otherwise it will soon be too late to stop the country turning into the authoritarian state it is already becoming; in the name of maintaining our freedoms and democracy…… – ironic or what?!

    As a photographer for over 50 years, a practising TV professional and, more recently, a paid up member of NO2ID I have been trying to get this message across for a very long time – especially that, sooner or later, these restrictions would impinge on the ability of Press & TV to do their job.

    Maybe now, with your campaign, that of Amateur Photographer ( AP Rights Watch ), BECTU & NUJ and growing media and public awareness we can finally start to roll back the database state and put this evil genie back in its bottle – because woe betide this country and our lives, if we don’t!

  33. Roger

    Submitted to the newspaper on 22 August – will they publish? Don’t know, but hopefully it will discomfort someone!

    Keep up the pressure – it’s our living they are messing with.

    I am a photographer, not a terrorist!
    Roger Harrison
    Arab News
    Vital terrorist information or a photo of one’s car? A Bristol Fighter
    about two kilometres from Windsor Castle. If you need good images of the
    castle, any souvenir shop will provide them for SR50 or get them free on
    AN Photo: Roger Harrison (Website by Visit Britain)

    Detained and cautioned in a busy suburban street for taking photographs.
    Arrested, cameras confiscated, hours in a police station and images
    deleted. Armed police swoop and demand identity, check vehicle (a
    $700,000 Bristol at that!) and detain for questioning on the street for
    half an hour. Communist Russia? Restrictive and security obsessed Saudi
    Arabia? No.

    Modern Britain.

    With the development of digital photography and the rapid electronic
    communication of images has come an increasing neurosis among
    governments of the risks attached to the dissemination of information.
    The UK is up there with the “best” of them.

    Under section 58a (more commonly known as s76) of the UK Terrorism Act
    2000 it is an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years

    a) To collect or possesses information of a kind likely to be useful to
    a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
    b) Possess a document or record containing information of that kind.

    If ever there were a blunderbuss piece of un-thought-through
    legislation, this has to be it. What it has spawned in effect is the
    regular harassment of photographers from visiting tourists to hardened
    professional photojournalists, and not one of them a terrorist.

    And it gets worse. The advice issued to Metropolitan police officers for
    example does not even align with the law they are paid to uphold.

    In particular Section 43 of that advice states that “Officers have the
    power to view digital images on a camera or mobile phone when they are
    searching a person under S43.” Not quite true; they can only view them
    under very specific circumstances that usually require a court order and
    they cannot delete them.

    This would be done to establish if they have in their possession images
    that may constitute evidence of their involvement in terrorism.

    Yet any officer arresting someone for photographing a police officer,
    under S58(a), must be able to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that
    the image is likely to be useful to a terrorist. It adds: “It should not
    ordinarily be considered appropriate for this law to be used in the
    course of normal policing, including protests as, without more, there is
    no link to terrorism.”

    Yet the monolithic Home Office bureaucracy has moved slightly after
    sustained protests and a wonderfully titled pressure group “I’m a
    photographer not a terrorist” mounted a web campaign.

    In their latest utterance the Home Office says: “An officer making an
    arrest [under section 76] must reasonably suspect that the information
    is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an
    act of terrorism. An example might be gathering information about the
    person’s house, car, routes to work and other movements. [...]
    It is a statutory defence for a person to prove that they had a
    reasonable excuse for eliciting, publishing or communicating the
    relevant information [Under s76]
    Important: Legitimate journalistic activity (such as covering a
    demonstration for a newspaper) is likely to constitute such an excuse.
    Similarly an innocent tourist or other sight-seer taking a photograph of
    a police officer is likely to have a reasonable excuse.” (Emphasis from
    the Home Office, not mine.)

    That is a step in the right direction, but it still relies largely on
    the interpretation of the office on the scene. That is something of a
    moveable feast, especially with the employment of the much-reviled
    “Community Support Officers” who on the list of most right minded citizens rank as social pests
    somewhere between cold-calling sub-prime mortgage sales executives and
    paedophilic traffic wardens.

    At the heart of this legislative dog’s breakfast lies poor drafting of
    legislation and the failure to understand the reach and spread of
    technology that has become so much part of daily life that it is hardly
    noticed. Governmental fear of the public gathering images over which
    they have no control drives the legislation; lack of comprehension that
    a serious criminal has free access from public sources to more
    information than he can use.

    So, we have arrived at a point that a tourist may (possibly) photograph
    a British Bobby without fear of being banged up in jail for ten years
    and possibly a journalist might be able to photograph the Peelers in
    full riot gear laying with batons into innocent labourers on their way
    home from work. It all depends on whether the policeman on the street
    knows the law or is willing to exercise the discretion built into it.
    Those are parameters I would not like to rely on.

    This summer, Queen Elizabeth authorised Buckingham Palace to open its
    gardens to tourists. It would be a fair bet that they would want to snap
    away and share that experience with friends – indeed at last enquiry,
    photos were not banned. However, “ gathering information about the
    person’s house, car, routes to work and other movements” is just cause
    to bring the full weight of the law down on the photographer. The
    legislators have obviously overlooked the fact that there is an entire
    industry – largely based on still images – based precisely on “
    gathering information about the person’s (in this case the Queen) house,
    car, routes to work and other movements”.

    When asked in April at a press conference promoting British tourism -
    and less than a month after a tourist and his grandson had been arrested
    and camera and images confiscated for photographing a large bus-shelter
    - about this fascinating dilemma the spokeswoman for “Visit Britain” her
    reply was; “Er………….”

    Cameras are so much a fact of life in the form of mobile phones – it is
    very difficult to buy a phone without one – that legislators really have
    to take a new look at existing technology and how it interfaces with

    All the information a terrorist could ever use, and then some, can be
    legally and very easily from Google Earth and their street-level images
    of every road and house in the UK, the British Library and a tourist
    shop with a decent stock of postcards.

    If I were a terrorist, I suspect that one of my least best options for
    an illicit information gathering mission would be to stand in a busy suburban high
    street with a SR100,000 of camera equipment using a lens the size of a
    bazooka and expect to get away with it.

    I would get better results from the Internet; and if that failed, get a
    ticket to Buckingham Palace from Visit Britain.

    Enjoy the holiday.


  34. Anonymous

    Reminds me of a funny story I read on Fight the Flights (against expansion at London City Airport). Apparently a wedding photographer was arrested and questioned under the Terrorism Act for taking photos of a wedding party outside the Ramada Hotel. This hotel happens to be accross the bridge from London City Airport.

  35. Private Photographer

    The shopping areas you are talking about for the protest are as you describe “Private property” and therefore like any private property are subject to the owners or representatives of, asking you to leave. If this is the case you should leave without quarrel. Not to do will class you as a tresspasser, which by the law allows the owners to remove you using “minimum force”. Although tresspassing is not an arrestable offence (by a civilian like a secuirty guard) it does allow them to forcibly remove you if you do not comply, somethign all people should be aware of incase they try to resist removal after the request to leave site is given. Such actions could be classed as assualt on the guards as their actions are lawful and yours not.

    The police will in most cases on private property ask the owners to remove you from site prior to taking any action themselves, something all should be aware of.

    I’m all for the freedom of photographers, I just feel that will all the bluster, we can omit telling people of the rights of property owners and end up breaking the law ourselves!

  36. @tri5tan

    hang on a minute, would it not be worth looking into buying shares in the company that owns canary wharf ? that way you would be technically taking photographs of something that you own and would in effect make the security guard your employee ?
    just a thought

  37. Ted

    After reading the comments I am more convinced than ever that a full frontal confrontation is necessary. If 1000s of people engage in civil disobedience the government eventually will have to retreat. If you are arrested it is very important not to be intimidated and just accept with a sigh that you were released without charges.

    Every arrest should result in a formal complaint backed by all photographers and their professional bodies. Can we collect donations to a war chest that can be used to pay for legal assistance? All photographers in the UK should have an emergency national help phone number to a lawyer that is briefed about this campaign and can act immediately. I also think that it is necessary to take as many pics of police officers (and shopping centres) as possible (preferably with large teles) all the time just to tire them out. There is always a legitimate reason to take pictures of police officers, to document potential abuse.

    If you are of Middle Eastern origin I recommend against participating in this campaign. To win it is important that the police don’t have any valid excuse.

    PS. This madness will most likely have a negative impact on the sales of DSLRs and long teles to the public. It would make business sense for Nikon, Canon, Sigma (and maybe Nokia) to sponsor this campaign with money. Ask them for a donation.

  38. dumbwhore

    It’s really a shame that England has gone so nuclear over CCTV and oppression of freedoms in the post 9/11 environment. I’m an American, but have spent a good deal of time in the UK. I used to argue to people that Britain dealt reasonably with the terrorist threat from Ireland for decades without going insane and that America should do the same. Sadly, both our nations went a bit batshit after 9/11 and really don’t seem to be recovering very gracefully.

    Hopefully protests like this will continue until the police get tired of talking to normal people and accusing them of ridiculous things. Surely it’s must get tedious at some point for the Bobby’s to keep fucking with people for no good purpose.

  39. Mandy

    Does anyone remember when we used to be free?
    For some reason, the Met Police seem to think after their 6 weeks training at Hendon that the best way to preserve civil freedom is to take it away. This kind of harassment (which is essentially what it is) happens in China and North Korea. How does the UK claim a moral authority over these dictatorships when it does the same?!
    It seems that the UK is regressing into an extremely primitive and paranoid culture. Shame.

  40. Lawrence

    I was photographing the exterior of a pub in Barking and later passed by a man unloading some bottled water from his van which I duly took some pics for stock. I put my camera away and was then stopped by 2 PCSOs wanting to know what I was photographing as they were concerned given that we were in the vicinity of Canary Wharf as well as the new Olympic venues. I had packed away my SLR before identifying myself and and duly explained to one of the chaps what I was doing whilst he whipped out his Form 5090x booklet and started filling in the details. I had already shown my press pass and he even asked for my date of birth, which I refused to divulge. I did a quick video recording of the chap on my phone too and he said, “I will call up a unit if you continue, because it’s NOT RIGHT”. Why aren’t they stopping real criminals on the streets peddling drugs or the drunken and disorderly??
    I am annoyed that even after producing a valid ID which states my name and employer details, they still had to proceed with filling in the form describing the ‘stop and search’ process and it will be entered into a database!!! Although it states ‘No further action’ but what was recorded on the form that I was ‘Advised’!
    Hrrmpph..I’ll have to find out how get myself removed from the database!

  41. Eve

    To me it doesn’t seem worth revealing your name or similar if you are stopped, as they will just write it down and put it in their database (giving you a criminal record). It may aggrivate them enough to arrest you, in which case you will get the record anyway – but it’s worth a try at least. And if you do get arrested but not charged, make sure you keep a note of everything that happens and everyone you speak to – then make an official complaint and/or take legal action. I’m alway reading in the papers about people getting knifed, raped or whatever in the street, yet police waste their time annoying random hobbyists. Who is paying their wages???

  42. Alex

    If I am on public property (pavement) but my camera is pointing towards private property (sometime I am close, other times quite far away) is this legal or not? A typical example is a reception area of a business, who of course have large glass doors and windows.

    Many thanks

  43. Bellroth

    I am puzzled by the fact that the areas in which the police consider photography to be an offence are kept secret from the public. How can you be expected not to do something if the fact that it is “illegal” has been concealed from you?

    And secondly, but more in jest, does this act cover all image making? Are they going to ask me to remove my easel and oil paints?

  44. Sam

    If you ever do an update on your stop and search card, could you format it CD size 125cms square.
    Then it could be printed and slipped into a PVC CD wallet to keep in the gadget bag.

  45. Jeff

    I can’t see anywhere in the Act that says a constable can prevent me taking photographs unless, I guess, I have been arrested. Yes they can view my digital images but what is there to stop me carrying on taking pictures after they have finished the stop and search?

  46. John

    The police are turning the public against them with their bullying behaviour. Some people will stand up to them, but there is an increasing atmosphere of the police being an arm of the state and can do whatever they like.

    Even worse, ‘security’ goons of all kinds are assuming powers that they certainly don’t have. Or maybe they do – the government is rolling out a scheme for civilians like club bouncers to have powers to impose on the spot fines on people. I don’t recall even the old East germany being like this.

  47. Flyboy

    How about compiling your own database of places where photographers, professional and otherwise, have been stopped/hassled by the authorities. No names are required, just the location. Then produce a map showing the “hotspots” around the country. This could be useful in 2 ways: 1)Anyone wanting to avoid the hassle can then decide whether they want to risk photography in a hotspot. 2)Anyone wanting to organise a protest photoshoot can choose the nearest hotspot to protest in.

    1. paul howard

      i think we should start a website where we can post all the pictures of places and things that are supposedly “terrorist” targets. We could call it The Terrorists Friend

  48. Dave H

    You are probably guilty of an offence in trying to build up a map of hotspots. Obviously those are places considered to be of interest to potential terrorists.

  49. Tony Green

    I think one thing that could be improved on the card would be to explain, if possible, in exactly WHICH circumstances police can view pictures on a camera. At present it’s open to them to lie about that.

  50. Tel

    I film quite a bit in central London, mostly comedy with a friend. Had one experience with a city of London copper in the summer, but I was sprawled across a side entrance of a large bank at the time. I think it was fair enough he asked us what we were doing even if anyone could tell my mate was acting in front of the camera (do terrorists do acting?). But given our response he let us continue with no hassles.
    Am a bit worried as I intend to be in the city tomorrow, xmas day, filming; taking advantage of the emptiness.. If I get stopped I’ll refer them to this comment and let you know if I get hassled… Filming/photography must not be allowed to be criminalized in this country, so I’m glad to see this forum existing otherwise the prisons will be full of cameramen/women!

  51. CJB

    I also think that major railway stations should also be targeted by photographic flashmobs. Railway enthusiasts have shared the brunt of jobsworth railway employees stopping them photographing trains for goodness sake. Recently one railway jobsworth even tried to arrogantly stop hundreds of enthusiasts from taking photos of the new steam loco. Tornado newly arrived at Kings Cross.

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  53. Mike Hodder

    Today in Dorchester, Dorset, I approached two PCSOs and asked if they were interested in my taking photographs in the street. They said that if I did not upset anyone it was fine. Good enough.
    They did not mention the risk of terrorism. I did.
    They responded in what I considered a sensible and measured manner – just as I have heard some senior police officers suggest.
    Make what you like of that but I was impressed – true professional behaviour.

  54. Helen

    I went backpacking last year and never had this problem taking photos especially in America, which is possibly one of the most paranoid country in the world. So if it’s not an issue there why is it such a problem in the UK?

    I’ve had the misfortune of being stopped by security guards for taking photos in London, and from the outset I was treated like a criminal and told to move on even though I was on public property.

    Wish I’d been a bit more confident and kicked up a fuss.

    1. Marcy

      You didn’t have a problem in the US, because we still have our Bill of Rights, the first amendment states that the citizens have Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech, etc. I daresay Obama will be in deep trouble if he tries to do away with our Constitution!
      While the world has changed and terrorists pose a terrible risk to us all- Common sense must prevail!

      1. serge

        Don’t worry about Obama, Bush and Cheney have done more damage to the Constitution that I would have imagined possible. Obama’s biggest sin is not pushing to have them tried for treason because it institutionalizes their crimes as policy.

  55. Colin Field

    Beware of taking photos around London’s Docklands – We had a security goon order my friend and myself to stop taking photos last January, as it was “Private Property”.

    We pointed out i) There were no signs saying it was private property, ii) There were no signs saying “No Photography” and iii) What was he going to do about the Japanese tourists taking photos at which point he realised he was outnumbered so stomped off to scare the living daylights out of a poor Japanese girl who barely spoke English!

    Putting the funny side to one side, this demonstrates the mentality of what we’re all facing!

    1. Georgi Tyler

      I’m a student studying for my a level in photography I’m constantly ask what am I doing but this happened to me today whilst in canary whaft … the police/security guy whoever he was came over asked me what I was doing and I explained I was taking photos for my final exam he asked to see my student id ( I didn’t have any on me at the time) then asked where I went to school I then asked him what the rules where and he didn seem to know told me i was ok as long as I didn take pictures of the enterances and exit. I was very confused and i honestly thought he was kidding when he ask for my id.
      and yeah no signs to say it was private land and no signs to say no photography …. ironically there are lots to say that smoking is not permmited (outside) but i counted at least 10 people lighting up while i was there and not one got spoken to

  56. Norman Smith

    I can’t be at the gathering today but wish to support resistance to the police overstepping their powers.

    Norman Smith

  57. Robin

    I notice the Bust Card says the poilice cannot view our pictures unless we have been arrested while the Metropolitan Police advice to their officer is that they can as long as you are not a professional.

    Who is correct?

  58. Flo Fflach

    I take quite a lot of photographs on railway stations but have become wary and now avoid doing so if I see police or railway staff present. Also recently noticed an extreme lack of proper trainspotters on stations.

    As Robin above: would like to know if police can look at your images if not professional. AND what constitutes professional?
    I might become involved in documenting protests against the badger cull; the police have already been taking names and addresses of people handing out leaflets (in places where they have permission to have a stand) and visiting their homes…

    If I wanted to know about public buildings would be much easier to go to google earth to start with…

  59. Anthony Falla

    I have been stopped 5 times this year! and twice surrounded. I am disabled which does not help the problem. I take photographs as a hobby or something to do whilst I travel from Hospital to hospital or doctors, I find it very disconcerting and frightening when you are being honest and just taking photographs, I am on high amounts of medication for my condition ( legal medication) and am drugged out sometimes – not feeling like the normal person! Frights like these, make my voice go into fright mode, cause shaking – as if I was guilty and probably sometimes look drugged out!

    Any help with a Card I will use! thank you for this information! as I always give them all my details!!! and I am not sure what they do with them? Please continue the great work.

  60. me noname

    After an hour of hassle free taking pictures with camera on tripod opposite Westminster Parliament, I moved under the bridge east to take pictures of the London Eye. I was stopped and told this is private land, I could take pictures, but not with a tripod. Did not get an answer as to who owned the land between Westminster Bridge and the London Eye. But was told “professional” photography was not allowed = tripod use?

    1. Leslie

      As per the tripod question (#26), photographers in Toronto Canada run into the same issue and the common reason for not being able to use a tripod in certain locations is a matter of insurance an liability. Having a tripod in a public area with the potential for high traffic can create a tripping hazard and so even though we’re allowed to take pictures, we’re not allowed to use a tripod. Sometimes if you get a permit and they know that you have proper insurance, you’re allowed to use one, but its hard to get.

      1. Leslie

        (they’re even more strict about it on private property for the same reasons– they don’t want to be involved if someone trips)

  61. ChuckleHeadUSA

    I find it ironic that in the UK, which has more cameras watching private citizens than any other (and thats saying alot), a private citizen would have an issue using cameras of thier own.

    It would seem to me that if everyone is afraid, then the terrorists have already acheived what they wanted to acheive.

    “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering” -Yoda (SWe:I)

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  63. Terryb

    I was recently bullied on the South Bank of the thames on the county hall quay side. A burly (Polish, sic) security guard told me I couldnt take photos of the river and houses of parliment. I explained the irony that he was now at work in my country because my Grandfather died in ww2 liberating his country,to give us the freedom to take photos of the place where most of the laws were passed. As already mentioned above, isnt it sad that in a country that has HALF of the worlds CCTV cameras, Its citizens are told that we cant take photos.
    Anyone for a fight.!! Isnt it about time we stood up and told them that they actually work for US !!! Meaning the people of the UNITED KINGDOM NOT THE F(&^*ING UNITED STATES

    1. Geek Squad

      No, Tom. You did not read the history books, if you do not know that the Soviets were allied with Britain, Canada and USA (among others).

      And no, Americans didn’t singlehandedly free Europe. The army of France Libre did more than most anglophone histories recount. And if anyone, the British played the most important role in upholding resistance to Hitler’s megalomania (I’m not British or French myself, so I’m not tooting my own horn).

      Sorry to assent to Tom’s threadjacking.

  64. Cold Hard truth

    Discussing WW2 is relevant. WW2 was planned, started and orchestrated by Britsh US aristocracy now in control of the western military-industrial complex.
    It was done for a number of reasons. To push money into military manufacturing (owned by the same people) and to justify further taxation. But mainly, to justify the “necessity for” forming the ground work of a global government in the form of the UN and EU.
    The Nazi’s and Hitler’s rise to power was funded by British-US aristocracy. Major backing was provided through the Union Banking Corp and orchestrated by among others, Prescott Bush (George W Bush’s grandfather). He was prosecuted for it it. Its all in public records.
    The German people were tricked into allowing the war by false flag operations such as the “terrorist attack” on the Reichstag. The same people used the same trick with the Gulf of Tonkin incident to rally public support for Vietnam (released official documents and tapes prove this was now the case) and again with the WTC attacks on 9/11 and London attacks of 7/7.
    The tactic (the global finanical crisis) are being used now to bring in a one world bank and financial system.
    No one died in the war to save freedom. They were just manipulated into thinking they were doing that, while in reality, they were doing the complete opposite.
    Until everyone realises what is really going on and how the world really works, nothing is going to change or get better.
    If anyone disputes any of this, then that’s fine. All
    I ask is that you go and research it yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

  65. Dave M

    I am an amatuer photographer and rail enthusiast and often take photos at my local railway station. I have never been approached by railway staff and in one instance I was even helped by them to get a better position for a picture. It obviously depends where you live, in my case Shropshire.

  66. Edward

    If I were a terrorist cell leader I would ensure that all my operatives had this “Get out of Jail” card on their persons at all times.

    1. Geek Squad

      So, you favour illegal arrests?

      Some simps are forever baffled that citizens’ rights protect ALL citizens, unless they have been proven guilty of crimes, and that protects ALL citizens from being persecuted. Otherwise, law enforcement personnel could persecute anyone, anywhere, any time without consequence.

      Your tired “I have nothing to hide” doesn’t enter into it, as they will eventually charge you for thinking wrong (go ahead, try and prove them wrong), if this process of totalitarianism is not stopped.

  67. kev ash

    im new to photograhy & just came across this site by accident i can’t belive what i read its shocking, people getting stopoped for doing nothiung except enjoying them selves why dont the police stop more people with knifes & guns than camreras, i think they should do more rallys around britain not just london im all for one at newcastle upon tyne. anyone up for it?
    we seriously need to put an end to this law. i will make sure i carry this card round with me

  68. John D'Errico

    Knowing your rights and carrying them on a card is not going to prevent the harrassment of photographers by security guards or police who always think they’re doing their job by hassling photographers. The only thing that will correct this situation is suing these ignorant do-gooders in court. When they start losing money they will be re-educated in a hurry. Knowing your rights is not nearly as important as the security and police forces knowing your rights.

    1. vic bean

      What if they (Police) use some other Law than s44 to stop and search, just to give us a bit more agro? What will are rights be then?
      Cheers Vic

  69. Alnitak

    I’ve been hassled by the police in Liverpool Street Station, and just yesterday by an overzealous private security guard. Ironically, I was outside my own office, and he was at least 100 yards from his own building, so I gave him a hard time. He backed down when I told him I was perfectly happy for him to call the police if he felt that he had a real right to prevent me from taking photos in a public location.

  70. Adam Nixon

    Love the campaign, but it should say ‘I’m a photographer, not a Muslim’

    The government’s failure to target the real culprit is precisely the reason they are fluffing the issue and holding us photographers as the scapegoats.

    But PHNAT is just playing into their hands and shooting themselves in the foot by their similar politically correct refusal to mention the ‘M’ word.

    If any of PHNAT’s courageous photojournalists really had a pair of balls, and a true love of freedom, they’d walk through a few Muslim neighbourhoods waving their ‘I’m a photographer, not a terrorist’ banners and snapping happily for the cause of art and freedom of the press. Let’s see that, shall we?
    Our government is pretty crappy, but it’s not our real enemy. Islam is, as you’d soon discover and have to admit if you attempted the above.
    Wake up, people!

  71. Becky

    I think the campaign is just what’s needed, having been questionned by various people for years about intentions when taking photo’s of even the most inocuous things. Naturally, there need to be some safeguards, as with photo’s of kids, but there is a point where it all just becomes paranoia and an opportunity for state control. I’m currently studying a Masters in Anthroplogy and would like to do a porject that examines the issue, to this end, I would lkike to interview/gain comments and take some photo’s of those who feel restricted. I don’t need to take names or show faces in the pictures, thinking of photographing everyone with their cameras over their faces. The material will only appear in my project and be viewed by examiners and colleagues at college, umless participants are happy for it to go further. I really need your help though as we don’t have another demo coming up and I need to get it in by the end of April. I can be contacted on traveltot@yahoo.co.uk and would really appreciate your help,

    Cheers, Becky

  72. rich.photog

    Have just stumbled across this site. I photograph a lot in London as an enthusiastic amateur but have not been stopped as yet. I’ll bookmark this site and post when I eventually do.

    Some comments on previous posts though: Photographing on railway stations is not the same as photographing in public. It’s private property for which you need permission to film/photo on. If you have a specific need to take photos at a station then writing for permission to take photos can yield permission so its worth trying and once you’ve shown the permission letter the Transport Police will let you be.

    There are some parts of London that you can’t take photos. Some ‘estates’ in the City can be difficult. Seemingly seperate buildings can sit on the same single piece of private land, Fleet Place near the Old Bailey forinstance has 3 building with apparent public thoroughfare between them. In these cases if you’re on that land it is reasonable for security guards to quiz you or ask you to leave as you’re on their property.

    Also some by-laws prevent photographic and filming “professionally” at particular locations. Trafalgar Square being one that comes to mind; the London Eye is another although the latter only applies at night as far as I am aware.

    Finally I think the idea of a shared map to plot places where you’ve been nabbed taking photos is a great idea and something that Google maps would allow quite easily. I have set up a similar map where sufferers of a particualrly rare blood disorder can plot their global position to help establish local shared support between each other and it was quite painless.

    Once the map is set up it could be embedded in this site. Instructions for my map are below and the same would work for a photographer map so long as whoever creates it shares the URL.


  73. Alan O

    There’s an error in the About text – “Across the country it that seems…” should be “Across the country it seems that…”

  74. John

    With the possible change of government in Britain, we may see a less hysterical attitude towards photography; perhaps a new government might even accept the decision of the European Court that section 44 ‘stop and search’ is unlawful. LibDems at least are quite keen on civil liberty.

    Or is it ‘whoever you vote for, the government wins’?

  75. Zec Richardson

    The stories I read about this never cease to amaze me, I have never been stopped, probably because I am in a wheelchair and that might be pushing it too far (excuse the pun). I have been told at events that no photography is allowed, however people are snapping away with compacts, it seems that if you have a proper photography kit you are targeted!

  76. marsh


    What is public property ie what does district or county council land consitute? What about public footpaths over private land?

    Any ideas


  77. borg

    I had the joys of being stopped today. I had my camera in hand but not on. I was obviously acting suspicious as i was standing looking up at the train timetable screen in marylebone trying to locate my next train home ! As i moved away a rather agressive lady stopped me and told e i couldnt photograph here, and certianly not railway time boards as it could be seen to be a terrorist activity (not that iwould dream of using the internet or god forbid a timetable from the ticket office) Anyway after claiming to be an off duty officer i was quoted sec 43/44 at her and the stance of network rail on this, to be told i wasnt even allowed to have the camera in hand and it should be out of site at all times at locations like this. At which point a concerned lady plus BRT officer turned up and said i was free to photograph here if i liked. Conversation ended pretty abruptly then after comments like would i be prepared to stand in court and say i wasnt photographing the timetable board (why in heavens name would i anyway) and she dissappeared, a bit peeved i think at not frightening me off. Moral here i think is know your rights, stay calm and coherent, and hope that eventually common sense pervades the over officious paranoid zealots that seem to be working on our behalf for the greater good.
    Lets hope the new govnt has a bit more common sense than the nannying state idealists that went before

  78. Trevor

    I have been stopped and questioned on a few occasions. Maybe we should all telephone our local police stations to ask permission to go out and take photographs.

  79. Dave R

    I haven’t read through the comments by others, will do so in a mo. In the meantime, there is something which is obvious and for all the world to see. It is called Institutional Corruptness. The UK Police are highly corrupted, their number includes hundreds of officers who will harass, threaten and claim powers which they do not have. They will lie and cover up their corruptness and they can confidently rely on their higher ranked officers to back up their corruptness with standard replies to any questioning about any event. The question is why are they targeting photographers. The answer is: Because we keep capturing them committing crimes, everything from low level corruption – right through to the killing of innocent civilians. Ian Tomlinson of course would have been labelled a trouble causing rioter if the corruption that pervades the UK Police lines was to be believed. But what can be done…? We keep on doing our lawful duty, we continue to take the shots, make the recording and bring these incidents to the attention of the people. In this way, we demonstrate that the Police are stupid, stupid enough to recruit from the most stupid people in our society and stupid enough to not realise that without the will of the people they are nothing. That will is running out as more and more people are effected by their corruption, they are becoming cornered an endangered species, a minority oppressing power who will go the same way of those greater examples before them. Let’s face it, whatever the replacement is – it couldn’t be worse than corrupt MP’s leading corrupt abusers of power.

  80. John

    I had an interesting experience earlier this year. I was preparing for a lecture on Lutyens and his fellow architects, and stopping my car for about 30 seconds in Horseguards Parade, got out and took a photograph of the war memorial there. A PCSO came up to me and asked what I was doing, rang through to check my car/drivers details etc. and took details of me/my address. Fair enough.

    A week later, I get home to find a hand written envelope and note inside asking me to contact a certain DC Morris and a telephone central London number for me to ring. I should at this stage say that I live in Twickenham, on the outskirts of London. This I duly did. The police officer asked what I had been doing at Horseguards Parade and went on to ask me a number of questions including who I was giving my lecture to, proof of this lecture, and the website of the organisation to whom I was giving the lecture.

    What, when I thought about it, really unnerved me, was that a police officer had taken the trouble to go out all the way to my home in Twickenham and that notwithstanding the details I had given to the PCSO, obviously treated me as potentially up to no good.

    I should say that I am white, middle aged, middle class with a plummy accent, and work (as per the details I provided to the PCSO) as a director for a blue chip up-market property company – so quite clearly an obvious terrorist suspect to be treated with extreme suspicion!!

  81. Peter

    Just been stopped and issued with a Form 5090 because I was photographing roses in a public park. Roses, for goodness sake. I suppose children could have been in the background (that, apparently was why the PCSO stopped me) but they would have been out of focus. I showed her the photos, she was happy, but continued to follow me through the park. Next thing I’m stopped by two PCs and two PCSOs on bikes.

    I explain why I’m there (testing my new camera), show them the photos, but, thanks to having seen this website some months ago, refused to give them my details. Nothing they can do of course, but I’m badly shaken up, distressed even, and the proud owner of a form 5090.

    Their description includes, “receding/balding hair”. Bloody cheeck, it’s a high forehead.

  82. Pam Smith

    I got a call from a PCSO yesterday and was told I couldn’t stand in any window of my house OR take any photos from my home windows – of anything! This because the yobs across the road from me claimed I was “harassing” them by taking photos of them – when they were on their balcony! They have no expectation of privacy when sitting in plain view of a multi-story building. They and the PCSO admitted the yobs have been harassing ME by ‘acting out’ (a nice way of putting their dropping their pants and giving me the ‘salute’ every time they see me). I told the PCSO what he could do with his ‘order’ not to use any window of my home OR take photos! I have a lovely view from my top floor home and frequently take pictures – with my standard, Argo-variety digital camera, 3x zoom lens – of the sea, the view, and the wildlife and have every intention of continuing to do so! I can’t believe the gall of this alleged “officer”!!

  83. Shootist

    While out celebrating a friend joining the army, we went to Carlisle race course, I photographed a PC holding a struggling hooligan while a course security guard punched him in the stomach. Half an hour later I was asked to step outside by the course stweard where a PC asked me to delete the photos, I said no and he `invited` me down to the station, so I gave in and deleted away, shame I had not known about this sight then. However I probably would have still complied as I didn`t want to spoil the day with a trip to the cells.

    1. Badgerrat

      Go here after you are told to delete photos

      It is pretty limited in it’s ability, but for same day deletions, it’s a peach, I was ordered to delete photos I was taking in mitre square in the city of London, because unbeknown to me, and shrouded in a sea of f/5.6 bokeh, were two mounted policeman, I didn’t even aknowledge them as the subject, it was the street sign I was after, same night I used recuver and got them back, lesson 1 “Cheat the hangman”

    2. Zen

      As soon as you got home, you should have used recovery software to try & restore the deleted photos on the memory card.

  84. Keith Barlow

    I hope you had some recovery software and got the deleted photo back. There are plenty of free apps on the web. They’ll recover deleted pics and will also recover from a format.

  85. Mick

    Now section 44 has been confined to the bin, would it be possible to update the card with a reference to a court order to be obtained to delete images. Also a reference that section 44 has now been repealed. Just especially for the really thick officers out there.

  86. Lubos Kavka

    Hello :-)

    I would like to know how is it with my rigts when I am taking pictures in clubs and on festivals…?

    Clearly I am interested mainly in taking photographs of what is happening on the stage, however sometimes I am shooting the audience as well and from time to time there are individual complainers…some of them pretty abusive.

  87. Graham Anderson

    Hi Lubos,

    if you’re at a festival like Reading or Glastonbury, you’re not in public: you’re in a private venue. Likewise a club or concert venue.

    Often venues will make as a condition of entry ‘no photography’ for a number of reasons:

    - stops annoying people standing in the way so they can get the perfect photo
    - stops flashes and camera noise interrupting the performance
    - allows the artist creative control of all aspects of the presentation of their performance
    - allows busy body killjoy security staff another way to boss people around

    Ironically, I had to ask the official photographer at the Barbican to move once because he’d setup shop right on my shoulder and a very quiet piece of the concert was being ruined by a barrage of shutter clicks from his officially sanctioned camera.

    As to other festival goers, in public, people have no reasonable expectation of privacy. However, in a private concert venue, you could argue that they aren’t in public and therefore they *do* have some expectation of privacy.

    But at the end of the day, taking a photo of someone who doesn’t want you to take it can be intrusive and rude, so act accordingly.

    1. Iain

      That’s nothing. the National Trust have the delusional belief that they have the right to restrict people selling photographs of the Giants Causeway and the Cliffs of Dover. Apparently they “own” those landmarks among others.

      Just don’t enter any of their photo competitions. If you do you are handing them full and unrestricted commercial rights to the images, including the right to resell them. Bunch of chancers if you ask me!

  88. Max Furr

    I am a 17 year old BTEC National Diploma Photography student. We are learning about this at the moment, making posters on it and doing shoots. I was taking photos of a run down building in Stoke on Trent for an Urban Landscape shoot, when the police were actually called out by a local and presumed I was “graffitiing and vandalising.” I showed the cop my pictures to prove that I was taking them, and this is a quote from him “You lot do it all the time, you come down and take pictures of places which are visible to all the public, then you come back and night time and spray it with your ‘gang tags’ or whatever it is you lot do, so all the people who work hard in this town, have to look at your monstrosities.” The thing which annoyed me most is that he called me “you lot”. Last time I checked, police are not supposed to stereotype.

    He asked for my details, (which I didn’t give him, we have learnt all about S44). He then tried to trick me by saying that it’s illegal to not give information, and that he will convict me of blah blah blah. So I told him that I am a Photography student and told him all about Section 44, just to prove that I knew what I was talking about. He the soon shut up, I was asked to leave the premises and not come back. Without saying a thing I just turned around and walked off.

    I can’t stand the police after this incident, they all need to seriously grow up.

  89. John

    The sooner the police go back to their proper function of keeping the streets safe, the better. Someone should tell them that we don’t have a Labour government any more and that Brown’s police state project is over – or is it?

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  91. Joe Fakih Gomez

    Hi all mates , well i was one stopped by the police , when we were out doing street photography with a bunch of friends ( ur fotografy club) so one friend leaned down to take a prespective of a car !! AND DAMN this car was an Undercover police car :SSSSS they were officers from the intelligence, and we were stopped there , so we called some people , the school principal…..and some contacts, but what some how saved u that we had some underage guys :S and another time my photography instructor was shooting with a friend in beirut downtown, so without any warning , a intellegence car came , 2 agents went out , took him with force and putted him inside the car , and took him to some king of cells, but luckily he told his friend to call his dad , that spoke with people he knew and let him out :S hahahah iam laughing caz here in LEBANON u have no right when ur doing bad stuff , the police has some kind of full authority and if i showed them this they would rip it in front of my face :D but can still use it for europe :D tahnk u guys for the paper

  92. Hypnoswan

    No doubt you’ve all seen about Breahead on the news. Same in Norwich. I was told I could be arrested for being racist when I asked if I ‘looked like a terrorist’, when suddenly surrounded by security guards, for taking pictures outside the mall here.

    How was my comment racist? Whenever has a terrorist been seen or CCTV’d OPENLY taking pictures of a potential target? How on earth could I have ‘looked’ like a potential terrorist?

    This country has gone flamin’ mad. Paranoia rules. Now that shopping malls are a police state in themselves I’m avoiding them

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  94. Christopher Robin

    We need to organise a movement of groups of photographers getting onto trains and taking pictures of the REOs on public transport and maybe even police officers in the general public.

    PhotoFlood ‘Em!!!!!!!

    (PhotoFlooding?? Who’s with me?)

    Picture it! It’d be beautiful! (pun intended)




  95. Shivendra

    I am an amateur and was just exploring my DSLR at Redhill Common, Redhill. Thereafter I went to streets with trees lined up. I purposefully did not take photo of any person, it was only trees and landscape. I was stopped by a Police car while I was walking down the road. I was asked to show my ID and other details. I told them everything. They also matched my records relating to visa status (me an Indian, here to spend some quality time). They just told me that it was unusual for anyone to take pictures so we stopped you. I am now worried about what are the effects of my details being captured and held on the Police system. I was allowed to leave after around 15 min being standing on the road while the lady in the office confirmed about my credentials.!!!!!!

  96. Leon

    Well after a full day of shooting a local Christmas event, I trudged off to the pub for a few and to check out my pictures.
    When I left to go home, I had had a good drink and turned into my road to see an Ambulance and a Police car parked behind it at an address, with my ‘freelance photographer’ head still on, I took a couple of photos and by now there were three police cars and a van at the address, so it would seem it may well have been of interest to the public?

    The second photo, I turned the flash on, which we all know is crap photographing anything fluorescent at night, it was about 2130.

    Two members of the Police force, which is what they were acting under, and not peace officers, approached me demanding to know why I was taking photo’s.

    If I had been sober I would have managed the whole situation a little differently, as it was I told them that I would not consent or give them an explanation as to why I was taking photo’s in a public place of what I believed to be of news worthy interest.

    The usual, “have you got any ID” line was used, to which I replied “am I obliged to carry ID with me?”
    And then the age old, “what’s your name?” “what’s your address?” again met with the same response of “am I obliged to give you that information?”

    I then remembered that I had a video camera in my camera bag to which I pulled out and proceeded to film the whole debacle, I got about 15 seconds of footage when they decided that filming them was not such a good idea, so was promptly barked at that I “have NO Authority” to film them and I was being detained for the purposes of a search, which would be carried out under s.44 of the Terrorism Act.

    It wasn’t until later that the receipt tells me it was s.44(2) of said act.

    The bracelets were put on so as to stop me filming the detention, or as they claim, “to stop me lunging into my bag”?

    After they carried out their search for terrorist weapons and material, and on finding my wallet, containing my name, they were satisfied I was not a terrorist, the bracelets were removed my bags searched and I was allowed to walk the 100metres to my front door.

    Police tend to get excitable when they are in groups of two or more, and this was the evident in this scenario, but I was pleasant, and polite, a little drunk perhaps giving them the advantage, and when they realised that I was not going to harm them they were both pleasant and expedient in their search.

    I hold no malice toward either of them, in fact the little encounter has taught me what to do in the future, as I strongly doubt it will be the last time I come across officious public servants.

    It has however led me to make a formal complaint to their Professional standards authority, and my local MP, as it seems that the message photography is not a crime hasn’t reached all corners of the country.

  97. David

    Having recently visited the Birmingham Bullring, i can only assume that their photography rules have been relaxed in recent times as lots of people were taking pics inside the complex (including me), and no one seemed to care.

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  99. Phil Jackson

    Got stopped by security in the car park at cadbury world after my wife asked me to photograph a particulary colourful autumnal tree. Guy aksed what I was up to and when I explained he went on to tell me about the different types of trees, and there are better ones further round the car park. Nice chap, so they’re not all wannabe stazi types

  100. Elina

    Erm..Maybe not the brightest questions but I’ll as anyway :
    “Written Record of the Search” And later to write down who you are talking to – Won’t they mind me writing things down?

    And if things are confiscated then still they have to give them back after deleting the images?

    I was not aware of this before but I live in a small place and haven’t really been taking pictures in any big city.
    Thank You for the advices!


  101. Radical Emu

    From the met.police.uk page /about/photography.htm

    “Photography and Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000

    The power to stop and search someone under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 no longer exists.

    Police officers continue to have the power to stop and search anyone who they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act.”

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  103. Anon E Mouse

    Friends, I understand your concerns but I think you are overlooking the REAL hazard to our health and hobby.

    I used to engage in candid photograhy. I dont anymore. Some ass told a security gaurd he thought I was photographing children. The security rang the police who put out an APB. I was located elsewhere, later, arrested on suspicion of the Blair-invented crime “Voyeurism” (can you believe it, there is such a statute). I was hauled off to jail for seven hours whilst the police ransacked my flat. By what I can only think of as divine intervention (seriously, I mean it) they saw sense and realised there was nothing of interest to them. When I returned I found they had stripped out all my PCs, drives, memory cards and were attempting to extract all my prints and negatives from decades of photography before they saw sense and abandoned the search. As I say, Ive become a Christian since this incredible saving grace. Had they taken everything my life would have pretty much become impossible to continue.

    However, having found there were absolutely no grounds for suspicion and that the entire episode was based on the whim of a passing idiot (of whom they had no record) they decided to see what else they could “do” me for.

    So after they had examined the shots of people going about the street on my camera from that day I was put in the frame for another of Tony’s new crimes “Harrassment without violence”. Given the choice between spending months in the legal process to fight this, in public, in the local press, I accepted a caution. A caution I have mounted for its ridiculous yet deadly serious import: I was found culpable of harrassment for having “covertly” photographed people. Ie, they were supposedly harrassed by something that they never even knew had happened!

    Believe me, this could happen to anyone who photographs in public. It totally dwarfs the inconvenience of being asked why we are photographing a building (I have had that experience many times). Being accused of something terrorist related is absolutely nothing compared to the chilling horror of being framed as a “nonce”. And ANYONE can make that accusation of anyone with a camera in public. And the police WILL track you down, with absolutely zero grounds for suspicion other than an anonymous denunciation.

    The situation is horrifying. It nearly destroyed me. It has changed my life. I thank God the police saw sense to the extent that they did.

  104. Chris Mimmack

    I was asked several years ago by Scunthorpe Borough Council to do some photography for them in a new shopping which I was under the impression the council had built as part of the town centre regeneration.

    I took a few shots and was then marched by a security guard to the office to explain myself. Apparently the new shopping centre is divided into 2 areas, each actually owned by insurance companies, and it was from these that permission had to be sought.

    I went back and explained to my client, then a week later went back to the shopping centre – via the security offices – where everything was all smiles and helpfulness.

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  107. Pingback: Police still using anti-terrorism powers to obstruct photographers | cioj.co.uk

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  109. asher

    i wanted to visit london,but as a photographer reading about those problems i just don’t-so many interesting places to visit,places i wont feel so unwanted.

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