New guidance for Met Police officers

John Yates, Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations, recently reminded
all MPS officers and staff that people taking photographs in public should
not be stopped and searched unless there is a valid reason.

The message, which has been circulated to all Borough Commanders and
published on the MPS intranet, reinforces guidance previously issued around
powers relating to stop and search under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Guidance on the issue will continue to be included in briefings to all
operational officers and staff.

Mr Yates said: "People have complained that they are being stopped when taking photographs in public places. These stops are being recorded under Stop and Account and under Section 44 of TACT. The complaints have included allegations that
people have been told that they cannot photograph certain public buildings,
that they cannot photograph police officers or PCSOs and that taking
photographs is, in itself, suspicious.

"Whilst we must remain vigilant at all times in dealing with suspicious
behaviour, staff must also be clear that:

  • there is no restriction on people taking photographs in public places or of any building other than in very exceptional circumstances
  • there is no prohibition on photographing front-line uniform staff
  • the act of taking a photograph in itself is not usually sufficient to carry out a stop.

"Unless there is a very good reason, people taking photographs should not be
stopped."

I trust that the above will help to reassure the Film and TV industry that
the Metropolitan Police Service continues to encourage film-makers in London
to go about their lawful business with little or no hindrance.

The following link has more detail of today's statement from New Scotland
Yard and information about the specific powers of Police in these matters:

http://cms.met.police.uk/news/policy

PC Alan Cousins
Metropolitan Police - Film Unit
www.met.police.uk/filmunit

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