Jacqui Smith, the British Home Secretary has sent a letter reported on by the British Journal of Photographers stating that the practice of harassing photographers who take pictures in public places is legitimate, though there is no law against it.
'First of all, may I take this opportunity to state that the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and as such there is no legal restriction on photography in public places,' Smith writes. 'Also, as you will be aware, there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place.'
However, the Home Secretary adds that local restrictions might be enforced. 'Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.
'It is for the local Chief Constable, in the case of your letter the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force, to decide how his or her Officers and employees should best balance the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection.'