back to article Met amends journo photo guidance to prevent interference

Police officers should 'exercise caution' when asking to view images captured by members of the media, according to amended advice to officers published by London's police force, the Metropolitan Police Service. The Met faced criticism from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) last month when it published guidance that did …

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Go

Good grief

'"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 says.'

It almost sounds like the Police have finally realised that we have rights and they have no right in law to remove or overlook those rights. But I'll believe it when I see it.

Let's hope this guidance propagates to all the Police forces quickly.

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Black Helicopters

Street View?

Will they now monitor our use of Google's Street View to see if we are viewing images that might be used in connection with terrorism?

Why are people so willing to put up with this infringement on our rights when the IRA did a heck of a lot more damage on the mainland than Al Q ever has?

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Awesome

I'm going to print out that page from their site and keep it with my camera.

Just to clarify, does anyone know if these guidelines will hold any weight outside of London? It's all very well if the Met are clued up, but the village policeman in the provinces are just as anti-camera, and probably less knowledgable about these laws.

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Anonymous Coward

@scrubber

Probably because the IRA didn't actively go out of their way to kill as many civilians as possible. Although obviously that did happen, the intention was (at least on the British mainland) more about disruption.

The question is, of course, will Plod on the streets actually listen to this advice. Or will it be search first, apologise later once evidence has been gathered?

As a survivor of the London bombings I'm not scared of some wannabe jihadist changing our way of life. Politicians do quite well on their own...

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Kent Police

I hope that this has been sent to Kent Police in large easy to read lettering.

I'm certainly going to make sure that I keep a copy of this latest statement with me, just in case.

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WTF?

Journalists privileged?

The suggestion that jornalists are a privileged profession worries me. Is this the powers that be trying to weasel their way into restricting the rights of anyone not registered as a journalist to take pictures? It would be just like this government, to take away our rights under the guise of protecting the same.

The important bit is in there, but it ought to be all that needed saying. '"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". Amen. Long may it stay that way. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilence". Members of the public armed with cameras make that vigilence more effective (as the police have found, to their discomfort). The authorities need watching every bit as much as the terrorists.

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Megaphone

Printed out and parked up...

I've printed that out for purposes of waving it in the police's face if they bother me about photographing anything...

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Grenade

@scrubber

Well, at least, our IRA terrorists, we had the advantage of knowing and understanding them (language-wise). Foreign(er) terrorists are obviously more terrifying.

Ow, and, possibly, we have a very different political class. I'm no big fan of Margaret Thatcher, but if I recall correctly, wasn't she the target of a hotel bombing, only to keep calm and carry on with the party's conference. Could you imagine Gordon doing that?

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Linux

Youve Been Framed :D

"The purpose of the stop and search is to discover whether that person has in their possession anything which may constitute evidence that they are a terrorist."

I fail to see how a picture of a train. Or a picture of Big Ben could ever constitute being a terrorist.

If you had 1kg of Napalm stuffed down your trowsers. Obviously.

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FAIL

It's pretty clear where the priorities are in that briefing:

"The media influences our reputation so it's crucial to maintain good working relations with its members."

How about relations with members of the public? I guess that hasn't been a priority for a long time.

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What is a 'Journalist'?

There seems to be a distinction made between how a 'member of the general public' and a journalist are treated.

If I'm taking photos in public that I may publish on a blog, or forums, or even send to the BBC, does that not make me a Journalist or 'member of the media'? How/when is there a difference?

I don't have a 'Press Card', nor am I a member of any press or media organisation, yet I can still be taking pictures 'for journalistic purposes'.

Would that not give me the same right to ask for a court order if searched?

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WTF?

Journalists = ok - Public = ?

So, if these guidelines are for Journalists, what rights to normal people have? I was under the impression that the Police couldn't go snooping around our pictures either. Or have I got that wrong?

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Joke

@scrubber

"Why are people so willing to put up with this infringement on our rights when the IRA did a heck of a lot more damage on the mainland than Al Q ever has?"

Thats obviously because no one stopped the IRA from taking photos! :)

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Anonymous Coward

So Journalists Have Protection, But the Rest of Us Don't?

Surely the police should get a warrant to access any photos, not just those taken by journalists? I suspect the reason why a lot of photographers get stopped is that the police & others (I'll get to that in a moment) don't actually 'know' what the public's rights are & use terrorism as a general excuse to stop & search people. For example, a woman taking photos at a local shopping centre was asked to stop by a security guard due to the threat of terrorism. The centre's owners later said the guard was 'incorrect' in the way he acted & should've been better informed.

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Tim

Good for NUJ but...

Is this OK for us hobbyists? Sounds like it mainly gives plod a new line, "well, you're not an accredited journalist so hand over the pics, scum.'

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This is the Met

They also have guidelines about not shooting people or beating them up, but it doesn't have any effect.

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Stop

How does this help?

The policeman is now going to have to put more effort into thinking up some ludicrous excuse why he is going to stop people photographing. Which will get him annoyed and make him come down harder on his victim.

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Unhappy

I suspect

The new guidance also makes it clearer that searches of photos or video are only allowed when an officer suspects the person being searched of being a terrorist.

What is required for suspicion of being a terrorist? because I suspect everyone will now be under that suspicion just so the officer can take a gander at the photos

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W

In summary.

"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 should ordinarily be considered inappropriate to [...] arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, as without more, there is no link to terrorism.

"Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched [...] to discover whether the images constitute evidence that the person is involved in terrorism. Officers also have the power to seize and retain any article found during the search which the officer reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is a terrorist.

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

All seemingly good stuff. But just to be completely sure on this one, how about some clarification on what the grounds might be for an officer having a "reasonable suspicion" that the photos "are intended to be used in connection with terrorism".

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Flame

Who is 'we'?

"It almost sounds like the Police have finally realised that we have rights"

We? Who is We? This is for *journalists*, not *public*.

If all men are equal under the law, then this has no place, however, here we are with an exception for one group.

How far does the Journalist thing go? Only the major newspapers, only Red Tops?, or are local newspapers OK or not? What about magazines? What about blogs? Freelancers? What about journalists for web newspapers? What about unpaid journalists? Commenter?

It's to divide and conquer, so presumably the 10 years in prison for photographing an officer law isn't applied to journalists?

http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=836675

What next, an 'Extended Criminal Background Check' before being allowed to buy a camera in Britain?

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Go

Let's hope

Let's hope this gets issued to every force... Kent, Blunderside etc

Fools

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@ scrubber

"Why are people so willing to put up with this infringement on our rights when the IRA did a heck of a lot more damage on the mainland than Al Q ever has?"

Simple. The members of the IRA looked just like normal British people so it was much harder to vilify them. People of middle-eastern or Arabic background, especially devout Muslims, are much easier to vilify due to the much obvious differences between 'them' and 'us'.

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Alert

IRA v Al Q (Not a forthcoming event)

@scrubber

The main difference between the Provisional IRA and Al Q is that members of the former usually arranged to be out of range when their bombs went off. There was also a policy of issuing warnings before their outrages took place.

The suicide bomber approach that Al Q (and other groups) use is a different matter and one that it is very hard to defend against.

Couple that with a government that jumps at shadows, (see icon), and cannot admit to making mistakes, and you get the "everyone is a suspect" mentality that is driving policy at the moment.

I would not be surprised to hear that more people are killed in photography related accidents each year than by terrorism.

You know the sort of thing. "If I lean a bit further over the railings I can get a better view of the beach. Yes it's getting much closer now.."

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Big Brother

About bloody time

Kent Police in particular need to take note of this advice and stop harrassing photographers. It's ironic that they have cameras and camera equipment up for auction. I wonder how they came about that equipment and what they do with the name and addresses of the people who buy it. Do they then get their doors kicked down in the middle of the night in an "anti terrorist" raid?

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Coat

@Scrubber

Just a quick note for you (and everyone else!)...

..there is no such thing as a terrorist organisation called "Al Queda".

The phrase, Al Queda, means either "The Gentlemen", "The List" or "The Database" depending on who you get to translate it. It was coined back in the early 1990's by the CIA as a codename for their database of terrorist suspects.

Isn't it amazing then that we all live in fear of this James Bond-esque super villan organisation hidden in their secret underground cave-bases in far off lands plotting how they can attack us here in our very homes?

Aren't we glad that our border security & intelligence agencies are stopping each and every attempt on our liberty and lives? After all, there haven't been many deaths from terrorist activity in the UK for a long time! Why, there were more death from bee stings last year than deaths from terrorism in the UK in the last TEN years!

Still, we can't be too safe can we? Lets have some ID cards to help protect us from the non-existant, not attacking, not getting into the UK, imaginary Al Queda!

Rant over... I'll get me coat.... It's the one that says "Conspiracy Theory is not Insanity" on the back.

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Happy

Ah But...

There's no mention of Tall People. Obviously they can still be searched.

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Big Brother

@Scrubber.

>Why are people so willing to put up with this infringement on our rights when the

> IRA did a heck of a lot more damage on the mainland than Al Q ever has?

Because the Tories were in power when the IRA were active. And as Labour would have you believe, Tories are all the antichrist, and anything they did was oppression of the people. However, now Labour are doing all the things the Tories would never in a million years be able to do (human rights violations, civil liberties trampling, torture, warmongering etc.), as "It's all for the good of the people. Don't worry your pretty little heads; we'll tell you who to worry about and we'll keep you safe from everyone else, as they're all out to get you but us. The Government is your Friend. Fear the Tories, they're Evil.".

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Big Brother

@scrubber

the irish are known to us and live next door. it is easier to hate a race of whom you are ignorant. see 1984.

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Anonymous Coward

@scrubber

'Why are people so willing to put up with this infringement on our rights when the IRA did a heck of a lot more damage on the mainland than Al Q ever has?'

That's a question I've asked many times myself. Do let me know if you ever find out.

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Black Helicopters

@Scrubber

"Why are people so willing to put up with this infringement on our rights when the IRA did a heck of a lot more damage on the mainland than Al Q ever has?"

I've asked myself the same question. The only answer I can come up with was that the threat from the IRA was very real and very deadly. Real people got injured and killed, I know some. This time round it's neither and is being used as a tool to instil fear and suspicion while at the same time removing some of those inconvenient 'rights' that people seem to have gained. Win win for the oppressors.

It's just a shame the 21st century has so far been by and large apathetic. Otherwise we might have had a revolution by now :)

Clam.

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FAIL

will Plod on the streets actually listen

They might if they can get someone to read it to them.

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@ Steve Swann

"It was coined back in the early 1990's by the CIA as a codename for their database of terrorist suspects."

Not originally. It started off as the database of the Islamic Conference (al Qaida means "the base"). It ended up being used to keep in touch with Islamic fighters in Afghanistan. It only became a terrorist database when the CIA decided they didn't like them anymore.

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IT Angle

@ Juillen 1

"However, now Labour are doing all the things the Tories would never in a million years be able to do (human rights violations, civil liberties trampling, torture, warmongering etc.)"

Do you need a refresher about how paranoid all groups were in September 2001? Conservative, liberal, moderate...they were ALL looking to take away our rights and go to war ASAP after 9/11.

I'm all for painting groups with the right brush, but yours isn't big enough. Go for the XXXL model next time.

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Big Brother

Completely worthless

Until a copper loses their job for wrongly arresting someone, and subsequently, having established that threatening citizens who were committing no offence was not part of their police duties, gets convicted for assault or harrassment, this means absolutely nothing. All these guidelines and so on are just more pieces of paper which coppers suffer absolutely no consequence whatsoever for ignoring.

Who the hell would be in any way calmed by this? Police officers should "exercise caution"? They'll probably interpret that to mean that they should "exercise caution" by assuming that all photographers are armed terrorists and shooting on sight. "Where it is clear that the person being searched is a journalist" - what exactly makes it clear when someone is a journalist? Wearing a dirty mac and an embittered expression? If I see a plod waddling up to me, should I wave my arms and shout "BBC! BBC!" as a protective mantra like they do in Taking The Flak? Or would I need to show a membership card for a journalism trade union? In which case, black marketeers take note, it's time to start churning out fake NUJ cards alongside the passports and ID cards.

We don't need more rules, we need fewer. All laws, guidance, policies and otherwise which in any way make it permissible to arrest someone for a lawful activity should be thrown in the bin, along with whoever wrote them. That is the only point at which sanity will be restored.

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Only a first step but not enough

So what does that mean? That journalists are less likely to be terrorists than anyone else? That its OK for a journo to take a photo but not OK for me to do it?

Its great that the Met have finally seen SOME sense in stopping persecution of journos. Is it too much to ask that they see complete sense and stop persecuting anyone with a camera?

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Anyone up for "National Everybody Photograph A Copper Day 9/9/9"?

How about we institute "National Everybody Photograph A Copper Day", on which as many of us as possible go out - armed with plenty of printed copies of the relevant guidance, of course - and photograph as many coppers in the course of their daily duties as we can?

Because like the guy above (Nigel11) mentioned, "The authorities need watching every bit as much as the terrorists". Damn right they do, and what's more they need *reminding*: they need reminding that we do *not* live under martial law, they need reminding that they can *not* just issue orders to civilians and that we do *not* have to do what they say just because they are coppers.

So, how about it, commentards. Anyone else think it would be a laugh? We could make it September 9th for the 9/9/09 = 999 connection. Set up a website on a freebie webhost somewhere, get a few of the amateur photographer magazines to pitch in with it - could be quite a bit of fun as well as making a serious point about how far outside the limits of their *actual* powers the police very regularly go.

Post replies here if you're interested and maybe we can get the ball rolling if enough people say they like the sound of it. ElReg, you'd give us some write-ups if we were going to arrange it, wouldn't you?

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Black Helicopters

@scrubber

> Will they now monitor our use of Google's Street View to see if we are viewing images that might be used in connection with terrorism?

No, that's GCHQ's job.

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Al Quaeda

Useless bunch. They have managed to pull off one attack in the US (eight years ago) and one in the UK four years ago. Since then this superhuman organisation has managed nothing. ten people a day die on the roads in the UK (100 a day in USA); the death toll from terrorism is truly negligible. They are crap terrorists.

I get irritated by this kind of tripe because the reponse of Londoners to the Tube bombings was "sod 'em, our way of life's too good to give in to these buggers". Our Government's reaction has been to try to erode our way of life in the interests of....something or other, buggered if I know.

Thus we end up losing the rights these pathetic terrorists *want* us to lose. My right to take a picture in the street without having to justify myself, for instance. They have tricked our rulers into making our rights that little bit less worthy of defence. What a marvellous own-goal.

It's beyond parody, I'm afraid.

O

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Anonymous Coward

Here's my (possibly rather silly) question.

If a police officer attempts to snatch your camera and delete photos from it (or other unlawful action), can you affect a citizen's arrest?

And, yes, I am after both pub theories and informed legal opinions.

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Coat

I've read it ...

... but will the coppers ?

My suggestion is print it out staple it to another sheet which just happens to have a very large crest of your local constabulary on it.

You haven't seen me, right ?

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Alert

Re: Who is 'we'?

Why do you need a license? Well...

Unfortunately, this has been a long time coming. Back in the early days in Prussia, there was a concept of the "Ph.D." This at-the-time worthless piece of paper was distributed to person(s) who completed a "course of study" developed by some other know-nothing who held themselves as an "expert". The only thing this "expert" had that normal people did not was a promise to members of the governing body to produce more "experts" who could show the remaining population how benevolent and logical the governing body was, and how irrational the common wisdom of the day was to go against said governance.

These pieces of paper gave the "experts" some sort of mystical wisdom that was gained by not actually doing what they were an "expert" at, but by discounting all practical experience and substituting "learning", from closed rooms and books written by other "experts".

By the mid 1800's, those that could afford to pay for these "Ph.D." documents all had them, so the governing bodies came up with a less expensive way of saying one group of people were able to do some arbitrary thing that all other people were rubbish. Of course, the governing body collected its fees and recurring monies to maintain these "licenses".

And now here we are today, where an "adequate" education means that you aren't qualified to do anything. In fact, the ability to vote is only inherent in your age, and not your "education" level.

Those in control have been in control for a long time, comrades...

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JMB

Met amends journo photo guidance to prevent interference

Perhaps lots of FOIA requests are needed to other police forces to see if they have issued the same or similar instructions. Though I suspect that it will continue with the average plod on the streets having no idea what his powers and limitations are.

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Black Helicopters

@Onionman

"ten people a day die on the roads in the UK (100 a day in USA); the death toll from terrorism is truly negligible. They are crap terrorists."

But doesn't that make them very effective terrorists: creating so much terror for so little action?

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself"

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Megaphone

Difference between Press and Public in Guidence

As far as I can see the main difference between press and public is that the press has slightly more protection in that for the MPS just to view an image it *may* need a court order. The only other concession to media is access to vantage points and crime scenes. The rest applies equally to members of the public and press. You as members of the public and me as a press photographer have the same rights when it comes to deletion of images - i.e. the MPS need a court order to do so.

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Boffin

IRA v ?

Strange, I'm been a puzzled onlooker to this thread since it started. I'm a Police Officer and also a very enthusiastic photographer; as indeed are a number of friends and colleagues.

I've yet to come across any circumstances where its even crossed my mind to stop and search someone for taking photos let alone act upon it. I've recently made a point of asking as many colleagues as possible for their views and, without exception, their views were the same as mine.

Indeed, most of them looked utterly baffled and made such comments as "Why? What would be the point?". That said, many of us work in and around tourist destinations so being photographed is such a constant that its barely even noticed.

Incidentally my primary role is that of Protection and Counter Terrorism and I have being so engaged since the IRA were in full swing. We played a constant cat and mouse game with them and we would frequently cross paths - they would sometime let us know that we were under close quarters observation and, on occasions we foiled their intended attacks .... not all of which ever reached the media.

The IRA genuinely thought of themselves as soldiers fighting an honourable war with stated political objectives and as such they were, to a great extent, a known quantity. I happily survived one bombing by immense good fortune .... that particular event being instrumental in setting up the unit I am now on.

I have been kept at least equally busy with the 'new threat' but its not at all the same. These people are far less professional or rational than the Republicans and that has made a huge difference in our response. There is no over-arching organisation, as such, and all those involved (that I have met) have been utterly unpredictable and in possession of a world view that few 'infidels' seem to truly comprehend. Their ultimate objective is unattainable but they don't recognise that and, unlike the IRA, their 'Means' have become more important than the 'Ends".

The conflict has been centuries in the making only catalysed by recent events. An inevitable religio-cultural clash that cannot be won by any side and is likely to be with us now for years if not indefinitely ..... adversaries that cannot be negotiated, bought, politically coerced or beaten presents difficulties well beyond that anything the IRA had to offer. ,,,, And ultimately I believe it is this that is spooking western Governments so.

Finally, the other major difference that has hit me personally, is that, this time, I have found explosives, lots of them, together with the INTENTION to kill more people in one go than they IRA did in their entire history. I have been involved in a number of such operations so far, several highly effective and, just as before (and for exactly the same reasons), not all of which have been made public.

And I know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there are a significant number of people still alive today who would otherwise be dead by now .... maybe even one or two of you, if that doesn't sound over melodramatic? (and it probably does).

You can take from this what you will, your views, like mine, are of no real consequence; I'm just relating what I've experienced. You are quite free to believe the world is flat - as ironically - did one of our above mentioed home grown nasties!.

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