On July 1st 2008 the British Journal of Photography published a letter from the Home Secretary to the to the National Union of Journalists.
The letter gives, in a roundabout way, police the authority to stop press taking photographs.
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…. 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
This means that while there are no laws stopping photography, the Police could use their common law powers, e.g breach of a peace, to stop/arrest the press/photographers, and the Home Secretary has given a nod to allow this to continue.
Freedom of Information requests at certain police forces have revealed the following
- Sussex Police stated that they have no records of public photography being a crime
- Avon and Somerset also implied that they did perceive photography to be a crime, but would intervene in serious matters, e.g press trying to photograph the body of a murder victim still at the scene.
As more information becomes available it will be published on this site.