Reevesey's recommended reading

Monday, 28 December 2009

Is photography the new crime?

There is, rightly so, a lot of anger at the moment about the over the top tactics taken by some police officers when confronted with a member of the public armed with.........wait for it, a camera! Yes, a camera.

Among those who appear to have been targeted by the Metropolitan police is Grant Smith, one of the country's leading architectural photographers, who was apprehended by seven, yes seven, police officers while taking pictures of a church in the City of London.

The police defended this over the top action in the Daily Telegraph, "In response to its treatment of photographers, the City of London Police earlier this month released details of an arrest made by officers who spotted a man filming on his mobile phone, which it said had helped to avert a terrorist attack on the capital."

"Footage shot on the Algerian man's Nokia N95 mobile phone showed he had filmed at railway and tube stations and shopping centres. Senior officers said it was a "hostile reconnaissance" video."

That doesn't mean everyone with a mobile phone or a camera is a terrorist.

I'm sorry, but the advice given by the Metropolitan Police Service is very clear and yet again it's officers who apprehended Grant Smith have not heeded it nor sought clarification.

Even The Royal Photographic Society has got involved in this latest drama issuing advice not just to it's Members but to the public as well, they also include a link to the Metropolitan Police Service websites photography advice page, where it says "Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel."

It goes on to say under both Sections 43 and 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, that "Officers do not have the power to delete digital images or destroy film at any point during a search."

It appears, more in London than elsewhere (so far) that police officers and even more so, police community support officers are getting a little bit power crazy and don't fully understand the law, so much that in yesterdays Sunday Telegraph 365 of Britain's most eminent photographers signed a letter asking for a change in anti-terrorist legislation.

Paul Lewis, a journalist for The Guardian, shows in this video clip that the police don't understand the legislation fully and certainly didn't follow this piece of advice from their own guidance - "However, where it is clear that the person being searched is a journalist, officers should exercise caution before viewing images as images acquired or created for the purposes of journalism may constitute journalistic material and should not be viewed without a Court Order."

When I took this photo in Edinburgh earlier this year, this new piece of legislation had only just come into force, I dread to think what may have happened, as I am not a journalist nor is that interesting to anyone but me.

It was outside the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and it was the AGM of the Royal Bank of Scotland and students from Edinburgh Universities were protesting about the bank sweeping their involvement in fossil fuels under the carpet.

I took the photo of the policeman taking a photo of the protesters.

I did tell you it wasn't that interesting, but it is to me and no, I am not a terrorist.


Anonymous said...

I'm hoping for this to happen to me. I would then sue them, and buy a new lens.

David Farrer said...

I saw them too and one had a word with me although no details were taken.

Here are my photos.

Anonymous said...

The Leader of Hull City Council was paid a visit by the Police after taking a photo of the town's new shopping centre. (

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