Met amends journo photo guidance to prevent interference
Hard cheese, copper!
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 not recognise the special rights of the media.
The guidance now makes it clear that a court order could be needed to view images captured by members of the media and warns officers to be careful.
"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," says the guidance, in a passage which did not appear in the original.
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.
"Officers have the power to stop and search a person who they reasonably suspect to be a terrorist," says the new guidance. "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."
The original advice had suggested that the power could be used to determine if the images were "of a kind, which could be used in connection with terrorism".
The guidance also makes it clear that people are entitled to film and photograph in public whether or not they are media professionals.
"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.
The NUJ welcomed the changes. "It is good to see that the police have listened to some of what we’ve been saying and the new guidance is certainly an improvement," said Roy Mincoff, the NUJ's legal officer. "We still have significant concerns about the way counter-terrorism legislation is being used to impinge on media freedoms, so it is vital that any guidance issued by the police is accurate and recognises the importance of a free press."
“Let’s hope that this marks a recognition on the part of the police that they must take the concerns of photojournalists seriously. We will be monitoring to see if the changes are reflected in practice," said Mincoff.
The new guidance for officers can be read here.
Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com
OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
@ 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.
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?
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!.