Saturday, 11 September 2010

Snap a PC Today, Hooray!

Police forces have been told they have no right to stop anyone taking photographs in public

One of Britain's most senior officers has issued guidance to the country's forces saying the practice is 'unacceptable and undermines public confidence.'

The ruling follows numerous high-profile cases in which heavy-handed police offiers have ordered photograhers - both professional and amateur - to delete images from their cameras.

But now Chief Constable Andy Trotter, a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers has written to forces spelling out they have no powers to prohibit people taking photos.

He said:"Officers should not prohibit the taking of photographs, film or digital images - this applies to the media and the public. They do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places.

"We need to co-operate with the media and amateur photographers - they play a vital role as their images help us to identify criminals.

"We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now photographed and filmed more than ever.

"Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether for the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and undermines public confidence in the police service.

"Once an inage has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order."

The guidance was issued despite Theresa May, the Home Secretary, issuing new rules on stop and search under the section 44 of the Terrorism Act.

Police are now not allowed to use the power unless they "reasonably suspect" a person of being a terrorist.

Human rights campaigners Liberty said the original power had "criminalised and alienated more people than it ever protected".

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