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UK photographers: the law and your rights: discussion

More photography laws?


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DaveCinzano

WATCH OUT, GEORGE, HE'S GOT A SCREWDRIVER!
Hi all, new here.

Actually, I'm not much of a photographer but had occasion to use a camera recently and the police were very heavy handed about the whole thing. I took *three* photos of boys who had been harassing my young daughter and who I've had numerous problems with in regard to anti social behaviour. I wanted to record who was causing the problems (as evidence, in case further hassle arose). This was in November, in the street, and the boys were wearing not just clothes but the full winter wear get up of hats and gloves etc.

The boys told their parents and the police visited me that evening. There was just myself and my daughter in the house when they came. They spent around half an hour asking and re-asking me to delete the photos and failing to clarify whether I'd broken the law. I counted at least 8 'requests' along the lines of "Will you delete the photos. I am disappointed in you not deleting them. Yes, you have your concerns and now I'm asking you to delete the photos... and on and on...) I thought my behaviour was legal so I stood my ground despite their threatening behavior. The officers suggested, among other things, I might be seen as a paedophile. I am a 49 year old full time mother, wielding an old Canon Powershot, photographing a bunch of boys in broad daylight, in a public street, and they suggest I could be seen as a paedophile (my 7 year old daughter was there the whole time this happened).

Earlier this year I had someone shoot out my front door and a window with an air gun (whilst my daughter and I were in the house) and the police didn't even step over my doorway when I reported it. One officer turned up, made some noises and was gone within ten minutes. This time, two of them were in my house for around half an hour, and they used just about every verbal manipulation trick they could to try and 'make' me delete the photos. When they left I sat down and cried for an hour - the experience was horrendous and has changed entirely how I see police officers. They were bullies, plain and simple.

I now have a complaint in to the local police. Of course, they say the officers did nothing wrong despite them also (weeks later) admitting I had not broken any laws. I just wanted to alert you all to there being people like me (with very limited photography skills and no long range lense) who are being bullied by the police about public photography taken in defence. Furthermore, as the police investigate themselves (and my experience suggests the investigators aren't bias free) redress is unlikely unless the infringing of our rights involves witnesses on our part.

The defence I was given for their behaviour was "They *believed* they were doing the right thing" and the investigating officer concurred with them. So, it seems as long as police officers hold a belief they're in the right we're supposed to just take whatever unfairness they dish out to us. Be warned, never deal with them alone and pass this info on to anyone you want.

Oh yes, I will never let another police officer over my threshhold. They aren't to be trusted.
And this was recently? As in the coppers tried to bully you into deleting the photos by implying that it would give the impression that you were a paedophile, and this happened since the murder of Bijan Ebrahimi?

What force was this? They sound like right geniuses.
 

RoyReed

Must fly!
Paul and Hannah Weller are pushing for a new law to prevent the publication of any photograph of a child without parental consent.

Paul Weller and his wife call for child press protection (BBC)

This follows their court case against the Daily Mail where they have just been awarded £10,000 damages after photos were taken of their kids by a paparazzo in California.

The fact that they won their case makes me think that the law is working OK as it is. Can you imagine the nightmare if the law was changed. It would mean that a photo like this (taken at the Streatham Kite Festival) would be illegal as it would probably be impossible to get permission from the parents of all of the children in the photo.


Princess Kite
by RoyReed, on Flickr
 
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editor

hiraethified
The fact that they won their case makes me think that the law is working OK as it is. Can you imagine the nightmare if the law was changed. It would mean that a photo like this (taken at the Streatham Kite Festival) would be illegal as it probably be impossible to get permission from the parents of all of the children in the photo.
It would be the end of true street photography for starters.
 

laptop

Freudenschade
It would be the end of true street photography for starters.
Nah, it'd only be a law for the famous.

Who have not, of course, thought through how it'd work for civilians, or civilian's children.

Howzabout a law that jailed a pap for taking a pic of a civilian kid while under the impression they were famous, but let off a civilian who took a pic of a famous kid under the impression they were a fellow-civilian?
 

Mr.Bishie

Pickled Egg
Read about this when it was first published. I wonder who made the complaint? And would a complaint have been made if say, it was a much "younger" photographer taking the photos?
 

laptop

Freudenschade
lcc by-laws surely a dead letter unless incorporated in successor authority by-laws, as lcc dead since 1965
I haven't checked recently, but the bylaw signs were changed at the abolition of the GLC to refer to the wonderfully-titled "London Residuary Body". Worthy of Pratchett.

I have no idea how this relates to my dim memory that the Heath was a creature of the City of London Corporation.
 

Pickman's model

every man and every woman is a star
I haven't checked recently, but the bylaw signs were changed at the abolition of the GLC to refer to the wonderfully-titled "London Residuary Body". Worthy of Pratchett.

I have no idea how this relates to my dim memory that the Heath was a creature of the City of London Corporation.
apparently still in force: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/Documents/hampstead-heath-byelaws.pdf but interestingly this pdf states they're enforced by hampstead heath constabulary, ie not met or city of london.
 

laptop

Freudenschade

OddOneOut

New Member
I took my bridge camera with some macro lenses into my local park this morning to take some closeups of flowers and whatever plants and bugs looked interesting. I was busy taking some closeups of bumblebees and a ladybird on a leaf in a tree when two police officers appear and ask me what I'm doing. I'm taking pictures of a bug in the tree officer. Then they tell me they have a report of a person in the park matching my description with a camera taking pictures...and there are children playing in the park sir!! I was a bit shocked so immediately offered them a look at my photos which they obviously saw were harmless. I said I understand them checking it out and they left, but afterwards I really started to feel uncomfortable and it totally spoiled my day. I started to think who in their right mind would call the police to report someone who had a camera...and the police then following it up. If the idiot who had called the police had actually looked to see where I pointed my camera they would hopefully have realised that I was not a flippin' pedophile...but thank you so very much for calling the police and making me feel like one!!

I'm actually very offended and and embarrased. After the police left I just felt despondent to take any more pictures...so I'm glad I found this forum to vent a bit and share my story. I know I did nothing wrong, so I feel like the police should instead have observed what I was doing and then left me alone, instead of approaching me and implying that taking photographs in a public place is somehow wrong because there are children in the vicinity. Crazy world we live in.
 

ddraig

dros ben llestri
a FW and I were threatened physically by a 6ft 16yrd old whose mum was suggesting the person i was with was a paedo as he had a camera and had started filming yesterday!
we were on an anti workfare action and giving out leaflets, the police were called and he was made to delete the photos as was not on public land and was in the car park of the store we were leafleting. more police came and tried to get our details but i refused, almost got arrested for BoP but as we were already leaving they let us go.
 

editor

hiraethified
the police were called and he was made to delete the photos as was not on public land and was in the car park of the store we were leafleting....
That's against the law. The police have NO right to make any photographer delete their photos under any circumstances.
http://www.urban75.org/photos/photographers-rights-deleting-images.html

General points

Officers do not have the power to delete digital images, destroy film or to prevent photography in a public place under either power. Equally, officers are also reminded that under these powers they must not access text messages, voicemails or emails.

Where it is clear that the person being searched under Sections 43 or 44 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.

If an officer's rationale for effecting a stop is that the person is taking photographs as a means of hostile reconnaissance, then it should be borne in mind that this should be under the Section 43 power. Officers should not default to the Section 44 power in such instances simply because the person is within one of the designated areas.

For more information visit
http://www.met.police.uk/about/photography.htm.
http://www.urban75.org/photos/met-police-photography-advice.html
 

RoyReed

Must fly!
the police were called and he was made to delete the photos as was not on public land
As editor said this is illegal. Deleting the photos is deleting evidence and can't be done by anyone without a court order. You should report this incident to the chief constable of your local division. I hope you managed to get a note of the police officers numbers.

If this ever happens again and you do delete any images, take the memory card out straight away and make sure no further writes are made to the card and you should be able to retrieve any deleted images using Recuva (free version) or any of the other recovery programmes that are available.

There's a free PDF to download and print on this site which you could keep with you in case of any future incidents:
http://www.sirimo.co.uk/2009/05/14/uk-photographers-rights-v2/

(BTW editor the links on your info page to the Met Police photography page get a 404. This appears to be the current link: http://content.met.police.uk/Site/photographyadvice)
 

Mr.Bishie

Pickled Egg
I took my bridge camera with some macro lenses into my local park this morning to take some closeups of flowers and whatever plants and bugs looked interesting. I was busy taking some closeups of bumblebees and a ladybird on a leaf in a tree when two police officers appear and ask me what I'm doing. I'm taking pictures of a bug in the tree officer. Then they tell me they have a report of a person in the park matching my description with a camera taking pictures...and there are children playing in the park sir!! I was a bit shocked so immediately offered them a look at my photos which they obviously saw were harmless. I said I understand them checking it out and they left, but afterwards I really started to feel uncomfortable and it totally spoiled my day. I started to think who in their right mind would call the police to report someone who had a camera...and the police then following it up. If the idiot who had called the police had actually looked to see where I pointed my camera they would hopefully have realised that I was not a flippin' pedophile...but thank you so very much for calling the police and making me feel like one!!

I'm actually very offended and and embarrased. After the police left I just felt despondent to take any more pictures...so I'm glad I found this forum to vent a bit and share my story. I know I did nothing wrong, so I feel like the police should instead have observed what I was doing and then left me alone, instead of approaching me and implying that taking photographs in a public place is somehow wrong because there are children in the vicinity. Crazy world we live in.
Photography is not a crime. Tell them to fuck off ;)
 

OddOneOut

New Member
Photography is not a crime. Tell them to fuck off ;)
Cheers Mr Bishie. After reading this forum, next time I will (tell them to fuck off), although a bit more politely at first.

I doubt very much that anything would have happened if I was using a mobile phone, but it does seem that whenever you use a half decent camera with a chunky looking lens then people get suspicious of what you're up to. It's very frustrating. RoyReed's post of the ACPO guidance to officers is pretty clear that they can't stop you from taking pictures in public. But by approaching and questioning you just because you have a semi-pro camera is bordering on harassment in my opinion, and in effect they are intimidating you to not even be there with a camera in the first place.:facepalm:
 

DaveCinzano

WATCH OUT, GEORGE, HE'S GOT A SCREWDRIVER!
Agency takes down pictures after Network Rail complains:

What's going on? Network Rail demand Alamy photo removal

...Photographers who challenged this have been met with mixed responses, the 1972 photograph (long before Network Rail existed) by Homer Sykes has been restored by Alamy while other contemporary news images – which had been published in the UK press without issue – have not been.

Another such removed image was, according to the photographer John Heseltine: “a shot from Camley Street in 1984 with the nature reserve under construction in the foreground, the Goods Way gasometers in the middle distance and the tower of St Pancras on the horizon nearly a mile away. The land was once the property of the Midland Railway but the land was ceded by Camden Borough Council to The London Wildlife Trust the year I made the image”. He is appealing the takedown to Alamy and you can see the photo in question second to last here.

Posters on Alamy’s member forum described various images removed as including “an electricity danger sign”, pictures of stations “taken from a nearby public road” and even one in another country “at the platform at the Gare du Nord Station in Paris”...
 
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