Comment, news and opinion from SceneThat's Editor
Home Office reminder
Fri, 25 Mar 2011 17:30:00 UT
Recent correspondence with the Home Office has prompted the now usual positive response from officials, for which we express our thanks.
Amongst other items there was a reminder of the "remedial order" made by the Home Secretary under section 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 to make immediate changes to (replacement of) sections 44 to 47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 with a more targeted and proportionate power. Although this was first reported back in January of this year, the reminder answers several of the points recently discussed and questioned by photographers.
CODE OF PRACTICE (ENGLAND, WALES AND SCOTLAND) FOR THE AUTHORISATION AND EXERCISE OF STOP AND SEARCH POWERS RELATING TO SECTION 47A OF SCHEDULE 6B TO THE TERRORISM ACT 2000
4.5.1. There has been widespread concern amongst photographers and journalists about the use of stop and search powers in relation to photography. It is important that police officers are aware, in exercising their counter-terrorism powers, that:
(a) members of the public and media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places;
(b) it is not an offence for a member of the public or journalist to take photographs/film of a public building;
(c) the police have no power to stop the filming or photographing of incidents or police personnel, and
4.5.2. Police officers can under section 47A stop and search someone taking photographs/film within an authorised area just as they can stop and search any other member of the public in the proper exercise of their discretion in accordance with the legislation and provisions of this Code (see paragraph 4.1.3.- copied below). But an authorisation itself does not prohibit the taking of photographs or digital images.
4.5.3. Further guidance on the use of counter-terrorism powers and photography can be found on the Home Office, ACPO and NPIA websites.
4.5.4. On the rare occasion that an officer reasonably suspects that photographs/film are being taken as part of hostile terrorist reconnaissance, a search under section 43(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000 or an arrest should be considered. Whilst terrorists may undertake hostile reconnaissance as part of their planning and this could entail the use of a camera or video equipment, it is important that police officers do not automatically consider photography/filming as suspicious behaviour.
4.5.5. Film and memory cards may be seized as part of the search if the officer reasonably suspects they are evidence that the person is a terrorist, or a vehicle is being used for the purposes of terrorism, but officers do not have a legal power to delete images or destroy film. Cameras and other devices should be left in the state they were found and forwarded to appropriately trained staff for forensic examination. The person being searched should never be asked or allowed to turn the device on or off because of the danger of evidence being lost or damaged.
4.5.6. Seizures of cameras etc. may only be made, following a stop and search, where the officer reasonably suspects that they constitute evidence that the person is a terrorist or that the vehicle is being used for the purposes of terrorism as the case may be.
[4.1.3. A constable exercising the power conferred by an authorisation under section 47A may not require a person to remove any clothing in public except for headgear, footwear, an outer coat, a jacket or gloves. Officers should be aware of the cultural sensitivities that may be involved in the removal of headgear.]