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Old 01-07-2008, 23:29   #1 (permalink)
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Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

Anyone else see this today?

British Journal of Photography - Home Secretary green lights restrictions on photography

Slowly but surely they continue to erode basic rights to freedom and further introduce police-state restrictions. I think it's terrible that those of us who pursue an innocent hobby such as this are to be treated with suspicion and discrimination. Makes my blood boil.
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Old 01-07-2008, 23:38   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

personally i think its all a mountain out of a molehill, its all mights, mays, and coulds, i wouldnt worry until they say wont cant shouldnt and not!
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Old 01-07-2008, 23:50   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

I believe irrespective of the "won't, can't, shouldn't, and nots" there's a fundamental issue at stake. Even if you are never personally affected by this the very fact that, if they wish, they can simply prevent you taking photographs in a public place as and when they please and for whatever reason they deem fit should be enough for anyone to question whether civil liberties are being sacrificed.

We could all wait until we see it happening around us, but I believe prevention is better than cure.
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Old 01-07-2008, 23:57   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

Agree Fiona. But...
There are a lot of anecdotal stories of harassement of photographers in innocent places. Anybody read DSLR user? CPSO told them it was illegal to photograph people. Full stop
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Old 02-07-2008, 00:06   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

This is precisely my point. Left unchecked the authorities and can decide what your civil rights to freedom will be without virtually any recourse. If you wish to give the police the power to step up to a photographer and stop them pursuing a completely innocent past time then at least set guidelines. I am not against the police pursuing and acting on what they consider to be suspicious. I don't even mind them asking me what I am doing. In fact, I welcome the fact they are being diligent and operating at an increased level of awareness - however, when I am clearly not breaking any laws I do not believe I should be able to simply receive a blanket "you can't photograph people!" mandate from them.
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Old 02-07-2008, 00:10   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

Nothing new here, it's merely confirming what's already happening, i.e. that the police can, if they see fit, intervene ...

"... the Home Secretary adds that local restrictions might be enforced. 'Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the offers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.'"

Sounds fair enough to me so long as good sense + judgement is used by the police in making such decisions, of course.

Photographers keep petitioning for clearer + more explicit laws to do with photography ... but only if said laws say what said photographers want said laws to say I wonder if it's best to leave well alone, + that the existing ambiguity is more in our favour than more explicit laws would be
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Old 02-07-2008, 00:26   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Sounds fair enough to me so long as good sense + judgement is used by the police in making such decisions, of course.
And who decides what 'good sense and judgement' are? How is such a thing measured and implemented in a consistent and fair manner when no guidelines are issued? Do we rely on the police to 'police' themselves? Are they free to interpret whatever they deem to be acceptable and what is not without us being able to question whether our own basic rights to freedom are being impeded? If a police officer comes up to you and forbids you from taking photographs in, say, Covent Garden, are you happy to just accept that?

[Edit] I win "most random example of the day" award (or I would if one existed)
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Old 02-07-2008, 00:36   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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And who decides what 'good sense and judgement' are?
Well, they do, and I would hope they have the good sense + judgement in making such decisions, otherwise I would think they would not be policemen in the first place


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If a police officer comes up to you and forbids you from taking photographs in, say, Covent Garden, are you happy to just accept that?
Yes I would. I would assume s/he had good reason, e.g. Princess Anne was having a wander round at the time, and was not in the mood for having her photo taken ...


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[Edit] I win "most random example of the day" award (or I would if one existed)
No, I think I just won that
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Old 02-07-2008, 00:36   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

i think the key here is "reasonable circumstances" for instance......... if there was a high rankin politician/ dignitary visiting somewhere and suddenly just before the visit i came along and was shooting each and every place he was due to visit and from every angle....... that i would deem be reasonable circumstances to ask me to stop.... they thing is......... what actual powers have they if u refuse....... cos they are not allowed to wipe your card, and cannot make you wipe it yourself? what are they going to arrest you with?....... i think the courts would have a field day with" reasonable circumstances" and the fact that as the article says there is no presumption of privacy in public places.......... the whole thing would be more of a nightmare to enforce and they are hoping that by making a big deal o f it by scare mongering that it will perhaps do the job for them by having people err on the side of caution............... Pah! if there is a pic there to be taken i will take it.. lol never been asked not to yet ....... and looking forward to the day when the person stupid enough to do it asks me!
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Old 02-07-2008, 01:10   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

Just because a power exists doesn't mean that power will automatically be abused on the kind of scale that many fear. Of course it can and does happen but the alternatiive is not to have any discretion or to have no coercive powers at all because they could be abused.

Police have the power to do a lot of very serious things not least take you off the streets and lock you up. They can do this if they think you killed someone or they think you haven't got dust caps on your tyres. We rely on them every day to not abuse these powers. They do have to ensure that they use them in a proportionate and lawful way or it's them who will be facing the courts or some other form of retribution. All of the extreme examples that are cited are outside of what they should be doing already and the redress exists if they overstep the mark.

I have been taking pictures for decades as I am sure have many here, I have never come across this happening and I suspect no one else has either. I, of course, could be wrong but I don't think it's common place. Some police and PCSOs are idiots that will happen if you employ humans.

In general yes they can't wipe your memory card (Unless doing so might prevent a breach of the peace) or make you wipe it but they can seize it or the camera if they think it may be evidence of an offence.

Some of them get it wrong through malice or incompetence but you can't legislate for every situation; you have to use subjective criteria but make the decison making process objective.

We don't have "Civil rights" in this country we have "Human rights" before that other than Magna Carta (Most of which has gone now) we didn't have much in the way of laws that said "You can" do things it's more about "You can't". I prefer a presumption that if you don't break the law and don't cause anyone any problems then you should not need laws outlining what you can do and when and where you can do it.

Last edited by VinnyP; 02-07-2008 at 01:27.
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Old 02-07-2008, 03:12   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

Please no politics, boring...
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:55   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte View Post
Well, they do, and I would hope they have the good sense + judgement in making such decisions, otherwise I would think they would not be policemen in the first place
I disagree. The police are there to uphold the laws passed by parliament, not create them and adjust them on the fly. An entire police force across the UK will not consistently implement restrictions on photographers without guidelines being in place.

Quote:
Yes I would. I would assume s/he had good reason, e.g. Princess Anne was having a wander round at the time, and was not in the mood for having her photo taken ...
Okay, well I am not here to defend photojournalism but if HRH Princess Anne is walking in public then she's actually allowed to be photographed providing that photographer is not impeding her in any way. Would they also go round stopping people taking photos with their compacts and cell phones? If not, are we now saying these 'rules' apply only to photographers that have a nice' camera? See how grey the boundaries start to become?

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Old 02-07-2008, 08:11   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Please no politics, boring...
LOL! I'm afraid it's inevitable - most decisions about most things will have a political element!

Personally, think that complacency is that most evil of things - it creeps up with fairly minor details and before you know it, some fairly fundemental decisions/laws have been enacted. Combine that with the paranoia that we have nowadays and you have fairly sweeping legislation - all done "with the best of intentions".

An example is the introduction of allowing filming of individuals by the authorities, brought in on the back of terrorism legislation. Makes absolute sense to me. That is, until you get the local authority using it to check up on where parents live to see whether they're 'cheating' the rules for sending their kids to a local school! Not only the council doing it, but defending their right to do it!

A couple of years ago there was a proposal to ban photography on Dartmoor unless you had a permit! It was just a cynical method to raise revenue - luckily shelved as being unworkable.

Sadly that's how thinking is going these days: control it and/or pay for it. Apparently that sounds fair enough to some people
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Old 02-07-2008, 08:42   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

"While Jacqui Smith reaffirmed that there are no legal restrictions, she added that local Chief Constables were allowed to restrict or monitor photography in certain circumstances."


I wonder what statutory power the chief constables will be acting upon in making a decision to restrict photography in this manner? If there are no legal restrictions on photography, how can the chief constable restrict it ?

I could understand local authorities passing bye-laws where necessary - but they are subject to debate and voting in a democratic forum - so there are checks and balances.

Since when did a chief constable become able to make laws / place restrictions upon the freedoms of individuals?

Time for a letter to my MP methinks.
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Old 02-07-2008, 10:48   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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How is such a thing measured and implemented in a consistent and fair manner when no guidelines are issued?
Problem is that even where guidelines do exist, there is a huge variation in interpretation. You only have to look at the variance in sentencing in the magistrates courts across the country.
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:16   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Since when did a chief constable become able to make laws / place restrictions upon the freedoms of individuals?
Not just chief constables. Depending on the level of restriction even a constable has quite draconian powers to restrict freedoms. It's not the power that is ever the issue it's whether the power is abused or misused that we should be constantly monitoring and watching.
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Old 02-07-2008, 13:33   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

I have to agree with those who have said that this is in effect just a formalisation of what we are seeing anyway. While I dislike the direction things are going in, and where possible I will fight against it, we are looking at a double-edged sword with what I believe will be a predictable outcome.

The double-edged sword comes from the fact that as photographers we all want to have the freedom to take pictures where, when, and of what we like while as people we also want to have the freedom to enjoy our lives without undue intrusion. Where is the balance? There is no objective way to resolve that question and when it comes down to subjective decision making the government (and I don't just mean this one) will tend to go with the majority. Unfortunately photographers are in the minority.

This issue has been growing a long time and I lay the blame squarely at the door of the paparazzi, and a number of tabloid papers who I believe have built a perception in the mind of the general public that photographers are sleazy, underhand and who given half a chance would stick a camera in your bedroom window. The fact is that there is a problem with privacy in the UK that some photographers and newspapers are creating and it is that which will result in new laws being made, with little we say having any real effect.

The other problem is that while I agree entirely with the civil liberties argument it is difficult to present a solid case showing serious impact on the photographer in question. Okay, if the photograph is newsworthy then we should have a right to take it in the public interest - but I don't think that particular point is really disputed. The issue is around 'everything else'. What is the real impact on you if the police stop you from taking a picture? You are not going to lose your livelihood, not going to suffer any hardship. If you desperately need the picture then in most cases you can go back later after the 'blockage' has gone away.

I'm not saying I agree with it, but aside from the fairly meaningless statement of "my civil rights are being infringed upon" what is our case for arguing that public photography should be allowed? Bearing in mind the current government is looking at banging people up for up to 6 weeks based on suspicion alone I think we are going to need something a bit stronger than 'civil rights' as the argument.
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Old 02-07-2008, 16:29   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Not just chief constables. Depending on the level of restriction even a constable has quite draconian powers to restrict freedoms. It's not the power that is ever the issue it's whether the power is abused or misused that we should be constantly monitoring and watching.
Hi Vinny - other than the power of arrest, and stop and search, what powers do they have in law ? I'm not sure I understand what "draconian powers" a constable has. A law abiding citizen going about his lawful business should be free from any interference from the police. Of course there is always the "excuse" that you are causing an obstruction.
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Old 02-07-2008, 18:28   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Hi Vinny - other than the power of arrest, and stop and search, what powers do they have in law ? I'm not sure I understand what "draconian powers" a constable has. A law abiding citizen going about his lawful business should be free from any interference from the police. Of course there is always the "excuse" that you are causing an obstruction.
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Old 02-07-2008, 18:43   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Hi Vinny - other than the power of arrest, and stop and search, what powers do they have in law ? I'm not sure I understand what "draconian powers" a constable has. A law abiding citizen going about his lawful business should be free from any interference from the police. Of course there is always the "excuse" that you are causing an obstruction.
I do agree 100% that if at all possible law abiding people should be free from intereference but that requires the correct application of powers, no one making any mistakes and no collateral damage.

My point was just that the police can already do a lot if they chose to in the appropriate circumstances but most of the time they get the balance about right. The "Excuse" of causing an obstrution is a great example. Pretty much anyone stationary on foot or in a car commits this offence but luckily for all of us photographers it's largely it's live and let live. I can think of a few things (but only a few) that I think it would be better that people were not allowed to photograph, no legislation could ever make a definitive list so instead they rely on people applying common sense.

Arrest and stop and search are pretty draconian in my book (By the way where is draconia??) ... but amongst other things off the top of my head, they can stop your car, close roads, search your house, keep you out of your own house, take your car, take your car to bits, make you drive to a weighbridge, erect a roadblock and even leave an area and not to return within 48 hours.
Mosty of the above (but not all surprisingly) require some good reason for doing them, they are all open to abuse.

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Old 02-07-2008, 20:34   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Arrest and stop and search are pretty draconian in my book (By the way where is draconia??) ...


Draconian is a reference to Laws created by Draco, an Athenian law scribe under whom small offenses had heavy punishments
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but amongst other things off the top of my head, they can stop your car, close roads, search your house, keep you out of your own house, take your car, take your car to bits, make you drive to a weighbridge, erect a roadblock and even leave an area and not to return within 48 hours.
Mosty of the above (but not all surprisingly) require some good reason for doing them, they are all open to abuse.
A police officer can stop a car and ask to see the driver's license - if he wants to stop you for any other reason he needs reasonable grounds to do so.
When walking down the street, once again a police officer must have a suspicion that you are carrying drugs, weapon(s), stolen property or items which could be used to damage property or commit a crime.
Even if you are stopped, if the officer cannot find evidence of an arrestable offence (you cannot just be arrested for just any old offence), they must let you go about your lawful business.
To enter or search your house, the police need a warrant granted by (I think) a magistrate - they cannot just enter your property - unlike Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs who can !
How can they stop you going into your own house, unless they arrest you?

Might be worth checking up on your rights :

For example, if you are cautioned - you know - "you have the right to remain silent etc", simply respond with :

“I do not recognise the significance of those words and I would like to exercise my legal right to refer to PACE – The Police and Criminal Evidence Act.”

The officer then HAS TO, BY LAW provide you with a copy of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and allow you as long as you like to read it, BEFORE they can continue : which if it is for a minor offence (or the officer is just overstepping the mark) just might put them off pursuing the matter, especially if it is near the end of their shift
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Old 02-07-2008, 20:44   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Draconian is a reference to Laws created by Draco, an Athenian law scribe under whom small offenses had heavy punishments

A police officer can stop a car and ask to see the driver's license - if he wants to stop you for any other reason he needs reasonable grounds to do so.
When walking down the street, once again a police officer must have a suspicion that you are carrying drugs, weapon(s), stolen property or items which could be used to damage property or commit a crime.
Even if you are stopped, if the officer cannot find evidence of an arrestable offence (you cannot just be arrested for just any old offence), they must let you go about your lawful business.
To enter or search your house, the police need a warrant granted by (I think) a magistrate - they cannot just enter your property - unlike Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs who can !
How can they stop you going into your own house, unless they arrest you?

Might be worth checking up on your rights :

For example, if you are cautioned - you know - "you have the right to remain silent etc", simply respond with :

“I do not recognise the significance of those words and I would like to exercise my legal right to refer to PACE – The Police and Criminal Evidence Act.”

The officer then HAS TO, BY LAW provide you with a copy of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and allow you as long as you like to read it, BEFORE they can continue : which if it is for a minor offence (or the officer is just overstepping the mark) just might put them off pursuing the matter, especially if it is near the end of their shift
For me it's all about whether or not I will be denied the right to take a photograph somewhere where I am legally allowed to take one. I think providing I am not interfering with anyone or photographing a prohibited subject, such as a military installation, dock yards, court houses, etc then I want to know I am free to go about my business. I actually have absolutely no problem with the police enquiring as to what I am doing, or photographing because I have absolutely nothing to hide. I just don't want the police to be in a position where they can decide on a day by day basis as when a photographer can take innocent pictures - including street photography.
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Old 02-07-2008, 21:01   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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For me it's all about whether or not I will be denied the right to take a photograph somewhere where I am legally allowed to take one. I think providing I am not interfering with anyone or photographing a prohibited subject, such as a military installation, dock yards, court houses, etc then I want to know I am free to go about my business. I actually have absolutely no problem with the police enquiring as to what I am doing, or photographing because I have absolutely nothing to hide. I just don't want the police to be in a position where they can decide on a day by day basis as when a photographer can take innocent pictures - including street photography.
I agree 100%

Perhaps we should all make a request under the Freedom Of Information Act, asking our local Police Authority to provide details of any restrictions imposed in the last 6 years
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Old 02-07-2008, 21:13   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Perhaps we should all make a request under the Freedom Of Information Act, asking our local Police Authority to provide details of any restrictions imposed in the last 6 years
that would make interesting reading if you could be bothered to go through it all. It will probably be the size of war and peace
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Old 02-07-2008, 21:51   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

It's academic and not really the point I was making which was it doesn't matter what powers we give to people it's only ever a problem if they abuse or use the powers unfairly. But I will quickly deal with the specifics for the fun of debate and clarity.
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A police officer can stop a car and ask to see the driver's license - if he wants to stop you for any other reason he needs reasonable grounds to do so.

When walking down the street, once again a police officer must have a suspicion that you are carrying drugs, weapon(s), stolen property or items which could be used to damage property or commit a crime.
They can stop a car for no reason whatever (S163 RTA), if the area is subject to an order under the prevention of terrorism act they need no reason to stop and search you and a lot of the UK is subject to an order at the moment.
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Even if you are stopped, if the officer cannot find evidence of an arrestable offence (you cannot just be arrested for just any old offence), they must let you go about your lawful business.
This was certainly the case but there has not been anything called an arrestable offence for a few years now, these days they can arrest for any offence if they need to. But need is defined and includes a lot of things for example if they want to ask you questions. They don't need any evidence just a reasonable suspicion.
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To enter or search your house, the police need a warrant granted by (I think) a magistrate - they cannot just enter your property - unlike Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs who can !
A lot of powers require a warrant from a magistrate a few from a judge but there are a whole raft of powers that mean a constable can enter and search your house without a warrant.
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How can they stop you going into your own house, unless they arrest you?
There is a well established common law power clarified by Lord Denning in Ghani and others. It was further upheld in R. V Sanghera. If you going into your house would interefere with their duty they can arrest you.

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Might be worth checking up on your rights :

For example, if you are cautioned - you know - "you have the right to remain silent etc", simply respond with :

“I do not recognise the significance of those words and I would like to exercise my legal right to refer to PACE – The Police and Criminal Evidence Act.”

The officer then HAS TO, BY LAW provide you with a copy of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and allow you as long as you like to read it, BEFORE they can continue : which if it is for a minor offence (or the officer is just overstepping the mark) just might put them off pursuing the matter, especially if it is near the end of their shift
Near the end of the shift means overtime which is music to many coppers ears. But the whole premise is a dead granny with no basis in law propagated on a few web sites mostly in relation to motoring matters. No such right exisits under PACE until you arrive at a police station after arrest. And then it's the codes of practice you can see not the act itself and there is no requirement to give you as long as you need to read it. But since police stations are a slow place to be you will have plenty of time. Apart from that it's spot on

However this discussion is about whether the police should have the right in the first instance to decide to restrict certain liberties, specifically photography. As I said most powers require them to have a reason to exercise them of course. Jaqui Smith never said that Chief Constables can willy nilly decide to ban photography anywhere they like on a whim. Just as in nearly all practical cases the police can't stop you going about your daily life with no good reason. What I thought was being complained about is why should a chief constable decide what is and isn't a good reason. My reply was just that already police officers of all ranks on a daily basis decide what is a good reason to do a lot more serious things than stopping the taking of photographs. They just like the chief constable should be accountable for those decisions and be closely monitored to ensure they always apply them fairly.

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Old 02-07-2008, 22:14   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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For me it's all about whether or not I will be denied the right to take a photograph somewhere where I am legally allowed to take one. I think providing I am not interfering with anyone or photographing a prohibited subject, such as a military installation, dock yards, court houses, etc then I want to know I am free to go about my business. I actually have absolutely no problem with the police enquiring as to what I am doing, or photographing because I have absolutely nothing to hide. I just don't want the police to be in a position where they can decide on a day by day basis as when a photographer can take innocent pictures - including street photography.

A really responsible attitude and I couldn't agree more. If everyone behaved in a reasonable manner all the time in all things there would be no need for any laws or anyone to uphold them.

If we accept that is not the case then we need to find a way to impose what is generally accepted as innocent. Some things are easy to cover by law as you point out but life isn't always about absolutes so you need to have discretionary powers. How about pictures of the family and friends at the funeral of the army intelligence officer? Or of someone dear to you who has just been killed in a terrible accident? Or how about a paedophile photographing a child having their nappy changed on a beach?

I can give more complicated what ifs that most reasonable people would accept could mean that with no good reason given to the photographer at the time or even possibly later they, may get told not to take photographs.

I regrettably think that there will always be circumstances where the responsible photographer would never dream of taking photographs but in extreme occasions someone may need to impose that responsibility on less well meaning people if they can't do it themselves. To do this they have to have some discretion to make that call in real time as the circumstances dictate but only where there is accountability and monitoring to ensure they do so fairly and reasonably and only when absolutely necessary.

I'll shut up now anyone want to talk about pictures or cameras

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Old 03-07-2008, 00:08   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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Draconian is a reference to Laws created by Draco, an Athenian law scribe under whom small offenses had heavy punishments
I thought they were those (very human looking) aliens in the old Buck Rogers series!

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Old 03-07-2008, 00:18   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

biddy biddy biddy...let's go buck
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Old 03-07-2008, 00:42   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

Oh dear, all that ranting has made LJR69 go

And yes, Buck Rogers was before my time
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:45   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Home Secretary Green Lights Restriction on Photography

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It's academic and not really the point I was making which was it doesn't matter what powers we give to people it's only ever a problem if they abuse or use the powers unfairly.
I couldn't disagree more strongly. The granting of a power is, of itself is an issue.

The courts used to have the ability to pass the death sentence for certain offences- and this resulted in a number of innocent people being hung, even when everyone involved in the process leading up to the carrying out of the sentence acted in good faith. You could argue that the power was abused because the innocent was found guilty, but it is a bit late once the sentence is carried out !

Obviously, compared with the death sentence, a ban on photography is extremely minor, but it does illustrate the point.
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