The Register reports:
The return of copper plate photography?
By John Oates
Posted in Policing, 9th July 2009 12:59 GMT
The Metropolitan Police has issued guidance to its officers to remind them that using a camera in public is not in itself a terrorist offence
However, the actual Metropolitan Police Service Photography advice web page is not a comprehensive guide to the relevant legislation and legal powers, for an amateur or professional photographer and for the Police Constables and Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) who are meant to enforce them fairly and proportionately.
The web page mentions the Terrorism Act 2000 section 43 (stop and search with "reasonable suspicion") , section 44 (stop and search without reasonable suspicion) and section 58A (eliciting, publishing or communicating information about current or former members of the armed forces, intelligence services or police constables , but not PCSOs etc.)
It sheds no light on where exactly the controversial Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 powers are actually in force, According to the Statute, they are supposed to be temporary,and strictly limited to a specific location and for a limited duration, not general purpose police powers available all everywhere, at all times.
However the Home office is still trying to keep the extent of the use of these powers secret from the public, thereby ruining any deterrent effect, and simply increasing the fear , mistrust and hatred of the Police - see the progress of the Spy Blog Freedom of Information Act request on this topic:
The Met Police Advice on Photography web page also omits mention of the Official Secrets Act 1911 Prohibited Places, which no longer applies to some buildings which it used to, before Gordon Brown;'s failed Public / Private Finance Initiatives tax dofge schemes.Former Government owned office buildings, including the Ministry of Defence and the HM Treasury buildings in Whitehall, and the Home Office now in Marsham Street, and the Ministry of Justice (in the redeveloped former Home Office buildings in St Anne's Gate /Petty France) are now owned by property companies based in foreign tax havens, which lease the poperties back to the Government. As such these buildings are no longer automatically "Prohibited Places" under the OSA 1911 , like they used to be, by virtue of ownership by the Crown, and they have not been specifically designated by a Secretary of State as being so.
However, there are Prohibited Places, where it is a non-arrestible criminal offence (prosecution of which still requires the permission of the Attorney General) to make make "models, plans, sketches" etc, including photographs, in the vicinity of, typically military bases which are stillowned by the Crown. Later legislation also designates any Licensed Nuclear Site i.e. nuclear power stations, research laboratories and re-processing plants etc, and any "aerodrome" owned by the Civil Aviation Authority i.e. Heathrow Airport etc.
None of these Prohibited Places actually ban photography by the public for innocent, non-espionage purposes, but the burden of proof seems to shift to the photographer having to prove his innocence.
What is also needed is a similar statement from the notorious British Transport Police, who, disproportionately, conduct even more unnecessary and counterproductive Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 stop and searches than the Met Police do.
There is plenty of evidence that some Police forces seem to be trying to cover up their obnoxious policy of racial profiling, by indulging in even more stupid racial profiling to "balance the figures" on section 44 stops and searches etc. - see the Report on the Operation in 2008 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and of part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 by Lord Carlile
In London, there are by-laws against commercial photography and filing, without prior permission (and payment of fees) in areas such as Trafalgar Square or Parliament Square, and on the whole of the London Underground railway Tube network.
Remember that Private Security Guards or even Police Community Support Officers acting on their own without a real , sworn, Police Constable in Uniform physically present, cannot exercise any of these powers, no matter how many yellow or orange high visibility vests or "official" Security Industry Authority photo id badges they sport.
See also the previous Spy Blog article: NPIA Practice Advice on Stop and Search in relation to Terrorism and on the War on Photographers