Police to Be Off-Limits to Photographers in the UK

by Miserere


A controversial law that is to come into effect today in the UK will limit the types of photographs one can take in public places within the UK. The law will target anyone who ‘elicits or attempts to elicit information about (members of armed forces)… which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’. This includes both terrorists and tourists taking photographs of police officers. As one cannot tell the difference between one or the other, I propose that we simply call these people with cameras t*rists.

This is no laughing matter, however, as a person being found guilty of this offence will be fined and could spend up to 10 years in jail. I don’t expect photographers like you or me to end up with a sentence of any kind, but I am sure we’ll soon start seeing stories of photographers spending nights in a cell while the police confirm that they are not terrorists. I would like to know exactly how many terrorists have been caught in the act of taking photographs that make the passing of this law so important.

Marina Scukina - Photographers protesting

©2009 Marina Scukina

As one might imagine, photographers in the UK are far from happy. A demonstration took place today in front of New Scotland Yard where a few hundred photographers gathered to protest the new law (see photo above). Despite the police presence and the many pictures that were taken of them, I am not aware of any arrests having taken place.

Read more at the British Journal of Photography here and here. Also check out BBC News.

8 Responses to “Police to Be Off-Limits to Photographers in the UK”

  1. Miserere, This situation is getting out of control. CBC Toronto reported today that a wedding photographer was arrested because a cop thought she was taking too many shots around an historic building. Didn’t matter that the bride and groom were in every shot. She was taken from the scene in the middle of her work and all the gear was confiscated. Leaving the bride and groom standing there.

    There have been several reports of other photographers and photographic artists arrested. Another was reported by the Independent.

    • The problem we face is that once a major country like the UK implements such a law, others will follow. There are already too many cases of law-enforcement officers (both in the UK and USA) not respecting photographers’ rights and harassing them, even arresting them with absolutely no legal grounds to do so. Everyone, but especially the police, should know that anyone can legally take a photo from a public place of anything that is visible from a public place. It really is that simple!

  2. Hey, thanks for keeping credits.

    We have to fight for our rights to photograph!

  3. I have increasingly worried about getting harassed for taking pictures of bridges or railroad-related subjects as well. Sooner or later, lakes will be off-limits too–we might be eco-terrorists, or planning on poisoning the water supply, right?

  4. Marina, thanks for taking the picture in the first place!

    Andrew, you should watch this video.

  5. That is called “secret police”

  6. Oh my, thanks for bringing this situation to light.

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