Photographers win British war on photography?

Is Britain's war on photography coming to an end? After the Independent newspaper got senior officials to admit that anti-terror legislation was being "widely abused…to question and search innocent photographers," the Association of Chief Police Officers has sent out a strongly worded memo to all officers ordering them to cease the practice. The harrassment of photographers by police officers is said to have senior officers "exasperated, depressed and embarrassed," and they characterize officers' belief that anti-terror laws prohibit photography as an "internal urban myth."

Chief Constable Andy Trotter, chairman of Acpo's media advisory group, took the decision to send the warning after growing criticism of the police's treatment of photographers.

Writing in today's Independent, he says: "Everyone… has a right to take photographs and film in public places. Taking photographs… is not normally cause for suspicion and there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place."

He added: "We need to make sure that our officers and Police Community Support Officers [PCSOs] are not unnecessarily targeting photographers just because they are going about their business. The last thing in the world we want to do is give photographers a hard time or alienate the public. We need the public to help us.

"Photographers should be left alone to get on with what they are doing. If an officer is suspicious of them for some reason they can just go up to them and have a chat with them – use old-fashioned policing skills to be frank – rather than using these powers, which we don't want to over-use at all."

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act allows the police to stop and search anyone they want, without need for suspicion, in a designated area. The exact locations of many of these areas are kept secret from the public, but are thought to include every railway station in and well-known tourist landmarks thought to be at risk of terrorist attacks…

Police U-turn on photographers and anti-terror laws

(Thanks, Mutant Rob!)