In the current climate of political correctness and anti-terrorism legislation, there have been a few situations recently where photographers have found themselves falling foul of the law – for example the US photographer who was arrested whilst taking photos for an Amtrak competition at a railway station (of all places!) – and the UK Home Secretary caused controversy last summer when she suggested that legal restrictions may be placed upon photographers.
A petition was lodged at the Prime Minister’s web spinning site and this week a response was published.
There are no legal restrictions on photography in public places. However, the law applies to photographers as it does to anybody else in a public place. So there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations, inflame an already tense situation, or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace, to avoid a public order situation, or for the person’s own safety or welfare, or for the safety and welfare of others.
Each situation will be different and it would be an operational matter for the police officer concerned as to what action if any should be taken in respect of those taking photographs. Anybody with a concern about a specific incident should raise the matter with the Chief Constable of the relevant force.”
[Number10.gov.uk response to photography law e-petition, 12 January 2008]
So, there you have it – Photography Is Not A Crime – although an overzealous law enforcement agent may think it is until you take it up with his or her Chief Constable…