Film Maker Captures Absurdity, Empty Threats Of Police Terror Stop Laws

Film Maker Captures Absurdity, Empty Threats Of Police Terror Stop Laws 240610cop

Filming and taking photographs in public is not terrorism

Steve Watson
Prisonplanet.com
Thursday, Jun 24th, 2010

An independent film maker and political activist refused to switch off his camera when he was stopped and searched by police in London recently, and captured footage that highlights how police use empty threats and vague language to enforce absurd terrorism laws.

Charlie Veitch of The Love Police was taken aside by a police officer while filming the outside the heavily protected gates of Downing Street. (Video below)

Rather than switch off his camera as ordered to by the officer, he continued to film, noting that it was his right to do so.

“That’s fine but under prevention of terrorism I do not want it pointing at me, otherwise I will seize it, end of conversation.” the officer replies.

This was the first utterly meaningless statement the officer makes, given that there is no provision under the Terrorism Act allowing police to seize cameras in public places or to stop people from filming them, unless they have reasonable suspicion that the person filming or taking pictures is a terrorist.

The Metropolitan Police have recently issued guidelines to their officers regarding terrorism laws and photography/filming, following sustained police abuse of the provisions against photographers, journalists and members of the public.

As the guidelines clearly state:

“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.”

The guidelines go on to state:

“…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.”

Despite these laws, photographers and film makers are routinely stopped and harassed under terrorism laws and routinely have their material seized and even deleted by police in London.

“What is the actual law saying I am not allowed to film you?” Charlie Veitch asks the officer outside Downing Street.

“Nothing. There is no law to say you can’t.” The officer replies, making a complete U-turn, after it becomes clear that Veitch knows the law.

This highlights how officers such as this one assume that the people they are stopping under terrorism laws have no knowledge of their rights and therefore feel they can get away with empty threats such as “I will seize your camera” and phony statements such as “under prevention of terrorism laws you cannot film me.”

After the officer requests to see identification under section 44, Veitch informs him that under that section of the Terrorism Act there is no requirement for him to identify himself – highlighting yet another common abuse of terrorism laws by police.

The officer then tells Veitch that he will be searching his bag – officially, police can only search a persons belongings under the Terrorism Act if they believe you are a terrorist, even though they are not obliged to show reasonable suspicion. Filming in public places does not constitute motive for such reasonable suspicion. Therefore Veitch was within his rights to decline to be searched.

At this point the officer threatens to arrest Veitch for “failing to comply with a police officers instructions”.

“I can’t do anything else other than arrest you because you have already refused to give me your details, so you leave me with no alternative other than to box you into a corner.” the officer says.

Veitch, faced with a day of being held in police cells, consents to the search, which turns up a bullhorn – which Veitch has to point out is not illegal in any way, shape or form.

The situation descends into near farce when a second officer, who had previously arrested Veitch enters the scene and the two attempt to book Veitch, the latter officer eventually asking “when did I last nick (arrest) you?” while attempting to recall Veitch’s details.

Watch the video:

Though section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit the filming of police, section 58A of the 2000 Act does.

As of February 17 2009, Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 also prohibits photographing police and permits the arrest of anyone found “eliciting, publishing or communicating information” relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

Theoretically, under these anti-terror laws, anyone caught photographing police could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

As we have recently reported, these sections of the respective Terrorism Acts are being used primarily to target journalists covering protests, who say they are being targeted by police surveillance officers more so than the actual protesters. The law has also been used against tourists snapping pictures of landmarks and members of the public documenting police misconduct.

However, under these sections, police “must be able to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that the information was, by its very nature, designed to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. This means that it is unlawful to arrest anyone for filming police during the course of normal policing activities, including protests.

A recent report by the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights confirmed that journalists and protesters were the primary targets of increased police misuse of anti-terror laws.

The use of “counter-terrorism” stop and search laws by the police in the UK was ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights in January, a decision that paves the way for protesters, photographers and everyday citizens to fight back against such gross invasions of privacy.

The court in Strasbourg referred to stop and search powers as not in “accordance with the law”, and a violation of article eight – the right to respect for private and family life.

Judges noted that there is no grounds for considering the powers “necessary”, and that they are only “expedient”, adding that there is a “clear risk of arbitrariness in granting such broad discretion” to a police officer.

They also stated that the searching clothing and belongings interferes with the right to privacy as it involves an element of humiliation and embarrassment.

The use of the powers and their authorisation is “neither sufficiently circumscribed, nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse”, according to the court.

The court also highlighted a lack of judicial oversight, stating “The absence of any obligation on the part of the officer to show a reasonable suspicion made it almost impossible to prove that the power had been improperly exercised”.

Film Maker Captures Absurdity, Empty Threats Of Police Terror Stop Laws 060509terror3The freedom stripping powers continue to be used in the UK with impunity.

The powers, which were initially conceived only to be used in emergency situations, have also come under more intense scrutiny recently following the publication of multiple sets of figures highlighting huge increases in stops with a relatively miniscule success rate.

In May 2009, data released to the BBC revealed that the Metropolitan Police in London used section 44 of the Terrorism Act more than 170,000 times in 2008 to stop people in the capital. That figure equated to stopping and searching a member of the public every three minutes under terrorism laws.

The figures represented a more than 140% increase on 2007 numbers.

Of all the stops in 2008, only 65 led to arrests for terror offences, a success rate of just 0.035%. Furthermore, when you take into account how many of those arrests have translated into convictions, according to the Home Office, you come up with a round figure of 0.0%.

A separate Freedom of Information Act request in 2009 also revealed that the use of the stop and search power has increased exponentially by over ten times in less than ten years.

Furthermore, Ministry of Justice statistics, published in mid 2008, revealed that from 2006-2007 police used their powers to stop (but not search) nearly two million members of the public and demand they account for their behavior or actions, a rise of one third from the previous year.

This meant that in just one year around 3.5% of the entire British population was stopped in the street by the police under suspicion of terror related offences.

While not resulting in the prevention of any terrorism, the section 44 powers have been most notably used against the 82-year-old Walter Wolfgang for heckling Jack Straw at the Labour Conference; Sally Cameron for walking on a cycle-path in Dundee; the 80-year-old John Catt for being caught on CCTV passing a demonstration in Brighton; the 11-year-old Isabelle Ellis-Cockcroft for accompanying her parents to an anti-nuclear protest; and a cricketer on his way to a match over his possession of a bat.

Anti-terror laws are intended for use on the general public, they always have been, and now we are seeing the rotten fruits of continued blind acceptance contaminate every section of society in this country.

Charlie Veitch and the Love Police previously encountered London Met Police at the Tower of London and turned the potentially confrontational run in into an educational youtube video entitled “How To Escape A Terror Stop”:

Photographers angry at terror law

Photographers protesting outside Scotland Yard

The photographers held a mass photo call in protest at the law

Hundreds of photographers have staged a protest outside Scotland Yard against a new law which they say could stop them taking pictures of the police.

The law makes it an offence to gather information on security personnel if that data could be used for a purpose linked to terrorism.

The National Union of Journalists said the law could be used to harass photographers working legitimately.

The Home Office said it was designed to protect counter-terrorism officers.

The NUJ wants the government to issue guidance to police forces on how exactly the law should be used by individual officers on the ground.

‘Treated as terrorists’

The photographers, both professional and amateur, held a mass photo-call outside the Met Police headquarters at Scotland Yard on Monday.

They are angry at the introduction of Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act and argue it can be used by police to stop and search them in any situation.

The new offence is intended to help protect those in the front line of our counter terrorism operations from terrorist attack

Metropolitan Police

Is it a crime to take pictures?

It makes it an offence to "elicit, publish or communicate information" relating to members of the Armed Forces, intelligence services and police, which is "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

Vice President of the NUJ Pete Murray said it was absurd to treat photographers as terrorists simply for doing their job.

"If the police officer isn’t doing anything wrong then what are they worried about?" he told the BBC.

"I mean, we as citizens constantly get told that these extra security laws, terrorism laws, all of this surveillance stuff, is not a threat to us if we’re not doing anything wrong.

"So why on earth it becomes a threat to a police officer to have a photographer, a working journalist, a photographer taking a picture of them is quite beyond me."

He said that even if an officer were in the background of a shot – for example, at a football match or street parade – "the photographer may end up on the wrong side of the law".

Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, backed a call by Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell to introduce a formal code to clarify the position of both the police and photographers.

"Its aim should be to facilitate photography wherever possible, rather than seek reasons to bar it," he said.

Photographers protesting outside Scotland Yard

Critics say the law will prevent them reporting on legitimate protests

"Police and photographers share the streets and the Met Federation earnestly wants to see them doing so harmoniously.

"As things stand, there is a real risk of photographers being hampered in carrying out their legitimate work and of police officers facing opprobrium for carrying out what they genuinely, if mistakenly, believe are duties imposed on them by the law."

‘Reasonable suspicion’

In a statement, the Home Office said taking pictures of police officers would only be deemed an offence in "very exceptional circumstances".

"The new offence is intended to help protect those in the front line of our counter terrorism operations from terrorist attack," it said.

"For the offence to be committed, the information would have to raise a reasonable suspicion that it was intended to be used to provide practical assistance to terrorists."

The Home Office added that anyone accused under the act could defend themselves by proving they had "a reasonable excuse" for taking the picture.

Anyone convicted under Section 76 could face a fine or a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Photographers snap over use of Section 44 by police officers

The heavy-handed use of anti-terror laws is making innocent people feel like criminals, complain civil liberties groups

By Mark Hughes, Jerome Taylor and Thomas Mendelsohn

Friday, 4 December 2009

Terminal 1 at Heathrow: Stopped trying to photograph armed police and their vehicles

ALAMY

Terminal 1 at Heathrow: Stopped trying to photograph armed police and their vehicles

Menwith Hill: 'Stopped, questioned and frisked' for trying to take pictures near the air baseMenwith Hill: ‘Stopped, questioned and frisked’ for trying to take pictures near the air base

London Wall, London: Stopped while taking an arty shot of Deutschebank 

London Wall, London: Stopped while taking an arty shot of Deutschebank

Westminster Bridge: Stopped for taking photo of Westminster Palace because he didn't have a permit

Westminster Bridge: Stopped for taking photo of Westminster Palace because he didn’t have a permit

Chelsea Bridge: Student with a ponytail, stopped while taking photos from the bridge

Chelsea Bridge: Student with a ponytail, stopped while taking photos from the bridge

Oxford Circus: Stopped for taking pictures in the street

Oxford Circus: Stopped for taking pictures in the street

Vauxhall Tube Station: Tourist forced to delete pictures of London transport hubs by police

Vauxhall Tube Station: Tourist forced to delete pictures of London transport hubs by police

Croydon: Tory MP Andrew Pelling was stopped in 2008 for taking photos of cycle path

Croydon: Tory MP Andrew Pelling was stopped in 2008 for taking photos of cycle path

Burgess Hill: Man stopped by PCSOs from taking pictures of Christmas decorations

Burgess Hill: Man stopped by PCSOs from taking pictures of Christmas decorations

Ken Livingstone, Liverpool Street: Photographer stopped 10 minutes after taking shot of Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone, Liverpool Street: Photographer stopped 10 minutes after taking shot of Ken Livingstone

Hammersmith Police Station: Photographer held under Prevention of Terrorism Act while researching a book

Hammersmith Police Station: Photographer held under Prevention of Terrorism Act while researching a book

Birmingham: Photographer forced to delete images outside conference centre by an officer

Birmingham: Photographer forced to delete images outside conference centre by an officer

Borough Market: Photographer stopped while wandering around the market

Borough Market: Photographer stopped while wandering around the market

Blackpool: Man told to delete 'long-distance shots' because a PCSO was visible in some

Blackpool: Man told to delete ‘long-distance shots’ because a PCSO was visible in some

Eastenders star in Ipswich: Stopped from taking photos of the actress Letitia Dean turning on Christmas lights

Eastenders star in Ipswich: Stopped from taking photos of the actress Letitia Dean turning on Christmas lights

Euston Station: Stopped for taking a picture of a 'slippery when wet' sign with a daft picture on it

Euston Station: Stopped for taking a picture of a ‘slippery when wet’ sign with a daft picture on it

Politicians, civil liberties groups and police bodies yesterday added their voices to fears that police officers are abusing anti-terror legislation to stop and question photographers taking pictures of famous landmarks.

Yesterday, The Independent highlighted the concern that police forces across the country are misusing the Section 44 legislation granted to them under the Terrorism Act, which allows them to stop anyone they want in a pre-designated area, without the need for suspicions of an offence having been committed.

But photographers have complained that they are regularly stopped while taking pictures and are treated like terrorists on reconnaissance missions. This is despite the act giving officers no power to seize cameras or demand the deletion of photographs.

The Metropolitan Police use Section 44 legislation far more than any other police force in England and Wales. In the first quarter of this financial year the Met, along with British Transport Police, were responsible for 96 per cent of the Section 44 stop-and-searches in the country.

Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Scotland Yard’s governing body, said police officers stopping innocent people, as Section 44 allows them to do, was "unacceptable" and "illegal".

"This is an area where the Met is going to have to change its tactics," she said. "It is unacceptable to use a law like this illegally, which is what I think they are doing. It is something that the MPA’s civil liberties panel is going to look at. It is a law that seems to hamper photographers, journalists, tourists and trainspotters. Anyone who carries a camera, basically."

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, said the force would cut back on its use of Section 44, except around sites which are obvious terror targets, such as the Houses of Parliament.

But Ms Jones said the force needs to train its officers more thoroughly in the application of the law. "Some officers think they have the right to seize cameras. It is unbelievable and amounts to an abuse of power," she said.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil liberties group, Liberty, called on the Government to reassess the law. "Section 44 stops are not based on reasonable suspicion and we know less than 1 per cent result in arrest.

"Hassling photographers and preventing them from carrying out perfectly ordinary assignments helps nobody, but blame must rest squarely with Parliament. It is time for this blunt and overly broad power to be tightened," she said.

Baroness Neville-Jones, the Conservatives’ shadow security minister, said: "Inappropriate and ever wider use of these powers is one of the surest ways to lose public support in the fight against terrorism. Their use is declining, but not fast enough. These statistics also show that normal criminal legislation is much more effective."

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, said: "Terrorism powers are clearly being abused when they are routinely applied to photographers, tourists and trainspotters. Police officers need more information and training to stop these inappropriate and excessive Section 44 searches."

Photographers continue to criticise the use of the power. In today’s Independent, Stuart Franklin, a celebrated British photographer, reveals that he was stopped and searched by police officers in north London while on an assignment earlier this year.

Jeff Moore, chairman of the British Press Photographers’ Association (BPPA), said: "The main problem we face is that Section 44 is an extremely poor piece of legislation that creates an enormous amount of confusion, both among the public and among the police officers that use it."

Mr Moore said police have ignored the BPPA’s requests over the past four years to have photographers talk to newly qualified police constables during their media training. He said: "We’re not trying to fight the police, we’re trying to work with them."

Section 44: Special powers for the police

* The Terrorism Act 2000 came in to force on 19 February 2001, "in response to the changing threat from international terrorism". It replaced temporary legislation that had been brought in to address the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

* Section 44 grants police officers wide-ranging powers to stop and search and is one of the Act’s more controversial provisions. Under it, police are entitled to stop and search any pedestrian or vehicle in a certain area, as well as anything carried by them or their passengers, provided prior authorisation has been given. Officers can do this without having any suspicion that an offence is being committed.

* Such an authorisation is given only if the person giving it "considers it expedient" for the prevention of terrorism – a rather open-ended clause.

* Authorisations are granted for "areas", for up to 28 days. Once one has been given for an area, any police officer can conduct their searches there for as long as it lasts.

Stopped and searched: Readers’ views

* Section 44 allows for searches of people without probable cause. If they are searching people because they are taking photographs and this is deemed to be acting suspiciously, it can’t be a search under section 44.

jamie129

* If I were a terrorist wanting to take photographs, I would probably start with a Google search on ‘body-worn covert cameras’.

exilen

* Having lived for 30 years outside Europe and the last 20 years using photography as part of my work, this is the kind of thing that I’ve come to expect in Africa, the Middle East and the more paranoid Asian countries.

Oarinput

* The solution is to make photography so ubiquitous that misplaced or ignorant authority can do nothing to control it.

tobyaw

* If somebody really wants to take surreptitious photos of something, they won’t be doing it in plain view with a whacking great big camera!

contrastcolour

* The police, Home Office and local authorities are all quasi-independent state organs who are using the licence they have been given under the many pieces of ’emergency legislation’ to harass and repress law abiding citizens. Osama [bin Laden] must be rubbing his hands with glee.

sdchamp

* I’ve even been stopped and questioned for just carrying a camera, with [police] wanting to know why I had it. Since when have you needed a reason to justify owning something that can be bought in most high streets in the land?

sinisterpics

* Ironically, the BBC has been running a trailer recently about a woman who was questioned on the streets of Zimbabwe for taking a picture because she did not have a permit to do so. Who would imagine that the same issue would arise in Great Britain?

ds9074

* The irony is that if you go to Google Street View outside St Paul’s Cathedral, London, you can look east, and there is a police car with a number plate which is easily readable.

justwent

* I was stopped and searched for taking pictures of cyclists near Oxford Circus in June/July. Police made me delete pictures and threatened me with arrest. They kept me for almost 30 minutes and were unresponsive to any questions I had. Not fun.

pjjaques

* ‘Those who would give up essential liberties for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security’ – Benjamin Franklin. As true then as it is now!

rockwell_666

* This is utterly ridiculous. I have been taking photos of London for years. I have folders full of them. What is being achieved here? Al-Qa’ida rule by proxy?

chrisclarkgold

Abuse of Terror laws continues

10th May, 2010

Branch member Grant Smith has sent this account of a stop and search under s44 of the Terrorism Act. The incident happened earlier today in the City of London whilst Grant was doing some test shots for an environmental portrait of an architect. This comes just weeks after the Metropolitan Police issued new guidance to officers about using s44 on photographers.

The incident clearly shows how officers are continuing to abuse Terror laws and how security guards are abusing their position by calling the police every time somebody photographs a building, which they claim is not allowed, but is of course perfectly legal and legitimate.

Can I Please Have My Mobile Phone Back, Officer?

I spent the weekend in Derby at the National Photography Symposium and was involved in a panel discussion on ‘Photography, Security and Terrorism. How ironic that my first assignment back in London today saw me experience again the public humiliation of a detention and a physical search by a City of London police officer.

A security guard tries to stop Grant photographing a building. Image © Grant Smith 2010

Scouting for a location on London Wall for a portrait of one of the architect’s responsible for the City’s changing skyline, I went to One Aldermanbury Square. Loaded with a Canon g10, I wandered around the base of the building taking recce shots. A guard employed by the building waved his hands at me, asserting that I couldn’t photograph this building. As I stood on the pavement opposite the building I told him he was wrong, and I had every right to photograph, which I kept on doing. Another guard approached saying the same thing, and that if I didn’t move he’d call the police. (He recognised me from a previous occasion when he had warned me off, which had also resulted in a police response. On that occasion they were satisfied that I was within my rights and I had done nothing wrong. Thus the security guards had prior confirmation from the police that I was a photographer, not a terrorist.) I wandered back and forth, sizing up my locations and where I would place my subject. I walked along London Wall high walk, and saw the frenzied police activity below. Four officers had arrived and were in animated discussion with the guards. A police van with flashing lights sped out of Wood Street and eyeballed me, fixing my position.  Uniformed police approached me from both directions. I continued walking and photographing. PC 374 walked towards me and greeted me with a cheery ‘Hello’. I responded in like fashion and continued to walk on as he spoke into his radio. He stopped me with his hand firmly on my chest. I asked if I was being detained.

‘I’d just like a word with you.’

Am I being detained? ‘Yes you are.’

Under what grounds? ‘Section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act.

Why? ‘If you’ll let me finish’, he responded. ‘And you are?’ He inquired the way a school bully might query anyone on their patch.

I wanted to know why I was being detained, and what were the reasonable grounds. ‘The guards at the building over the road alerted us to someone acting suspiciously. And under Section 44(2) we don’t need reasonable grounds.’

‘What’s suspicious about my behaviour. I was taking photographs.’

‘If you let me finish. The fact you were taking photographs, we’d like to know the reason. ‘

I said that I’m in the City, an area of iconic buildings and fascinating historical sites, that’s why I’m taking photographs. He replied with a cryptic answer:‘You’ve just explained it.’ I looked puzzled.

‘The very fact you were here at all is the reason we’ve stopped you.’

I explained that being in a public space I could not be prevented from taking photographs. He said the guards were wrong in trying to stop me.  I felt relieved and thought that the whole affair would rest then and there. As I began to move away a second PC, PC29 moved from behind and took both my arms, preventing me from moving. PC 374 then told me he was searching me under s44, and he began to go through my pockets and pat me down. My phone was taken from me. The camera hanging around my neck was carefully removed and placed out of my reach. I asked several times if I could record this incident on camera and was denied this right, being told that under s44(2) I must do as ordered. The power was now in their hands. Mine were still being held.

PC went through my pannier, flipping through personal notebooks, gingerly peeking in a plastic bag that contained a towel and swimmers, still wet from my earlier swim. He located my wallet, and pulled out my drivers licence with obvious glee. Each time I attempted to move PC29’s grip on my arms became firmer. I moved to zip up my jacket, which had been unzipped in the search, and his grip tightened. I explained I was getting cold and would like to warm up. He agreed, but kept hold of me by one hand.  I tried to move left or right and he blocked me. Repeated requests for my phone and camera were turned down. I asked to get pen and paper from my bag, and this was declined. I said I wanted to record the incident, only to be told that I will get their record at the end of the procedure.

Many times I asked why was I being stopped under s44. The answer I given was because of my obstructive and non-compliant attitude. Based on this observation, it then became necessary to treat me as a potential criminal suspect. I noted that s44 could be open to misuse, as it was so powerful and sweeping. PC374 replied ‘It has been said, but it is open for our use’ The implication being that it can be used on anyone who is non-compliant.

Waiting for the data base to give PC374 the all-clear on my record, I was kept hemmed against the barrier by PC29, repeatedly told that if I kept moving I would be handcuffed. This scene of public humiliation, as I was restrained and treated like a criminal, was watched by workers from the neighbouring building.

Once the all clear was given, PC374 tore off the pink slip of the s44 stop search form asking if I wanted it. I asked if I could carry on taking photographs, he turned his back on me like a petulant child, forgetting that his cap lay on the ground in the spot he had removed it earlier. Joined by a third PC, the posse then turned their back on me refusing to answer any further questions from me. I watched as the three of them walked away from me, with my mobile phone. Excuse me I called ‘Can I please have my mobile phone back?’

Grant is also one of the organisers of the I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign.

Metropolitan Police Service - Working together for a safer London

Photography advice

The Metropolitan Police Service’s approach towards photography in public places is a subject of regular debate.

We encourage officers and the public to be vigilant against terrorism but recognise the importance not only of protecting the public from terrorism but also promoting the freedom of the public and the media to take and publish photographs.

Guidance around the issue has been made clear to officers and PCSOs through briefings and internal communications. The following advice is available to all officers and provides a summary of the Metropolitan Police Service’s guidance around photography in public places.

Freedom to photograph/film

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.

Terrorism Act 2000

Photography and Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000

The Terrorism Act 2000 does not prohibit people from taking photographs or digital images in an area where an authority under section 44 is in place.

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. Deletion or destruction may only take place following seizure if there is a lawful power (such as a court order) that permits such deletion or destruction.

Photography and Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000

Officers have the power to stop and search a person who they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist. 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.

Officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched under S43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 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. This includes any mobile telephone or camera containing such evidence.

Officers do not have the power to delete digital images or destroy film at any point during a search. Deletion or destruction may only take place following seizure if there is a lawful power (such as a court order) that permits such deletion or destruction.

Section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000

Section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000 covers the offence of eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of the armed forces, intelligence services or police where the information is, by its very nature, designed to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Any officer making an arrest for an offence under Section 58A must be able to demonstrate a reasonable suspicion that the information was, by its very nature, designed to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism

It would ordinarily be unlawful to use section 58A to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests because there would not normally be grounds for suspecting that the photographs were being taken to provide assistance to a terrorist. An arrest would only be lawful if an arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion that the photographs were being taken in order to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

There is nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable so long as this is being done for a lawful purpose and is not being done in a way that prevents, dissuades or inhibits the individual from doing something which is not unlawful.

Guidelines for MPS staff on dealing with media reporters, press photographers and television crews

Members of the media can, like any other person, be stopped and searched under s44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. They may also be stopped and searched under S43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 if an officer reasonably suspects that they are a terrorist. 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.

Contact with photographers, reporters and television crews is a regular occurrence for many officers and staff. The media influences our reputation so it’s crucial to maintain good working relations with its members, even in difficult circumstances.

Following these guidelines means both media and police can fulfill their duties without hindering each other.

Creating vantage points

When areas are cordoned off following an incident, creating a vantage point, if possible, where members of the media at the scene can see police activity, can help them do their job without interfering with a police operation. However, media may still report from areas accessible to the general public.

Identifying the media

Genuine members of the media carry identification, for instance the UK Press Card, which they will present on request.

The press and the public

If someone distressed or bereaved asks the police to stop the media recording them, the request can be passed on to the media, but not enforced.

Access to incident scenes

The Senior Investigating Officer is in charge of granting members of the media access to incident scenes. In the early stages of investigation, evidence gathering and forensic retrieval take priority over media access, but, where appropriate, access should be allowed as soon as is practicable.

Film Unit

The aim of the Metropolitan Police Service Film Unit is to be a central point of contact, to co-ordinate, facilitate and bring consistency to those people filming in London with MPS support.

We work together with Film London and stakeholders of the Film London Partnership to make London accessible, whilst minimising inconvenience to Londoners and increasing the economic benefits of filming.

For more information please visit the Film Unit web site.

Metropolitan Police Service - Working together for a safer London

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