From today, anyone taking a photograph of a police officer could be deemed to have committed a criminal offence.
That is because of a new law – Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act – which has come into force.
It permits the arrest of anyone found “eliciting, publishing or communicating information” relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
That means anyone taking a picture of one of those people could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years, if a link to terrorism is proved.
The law has angered photographers, both professional and amateur, who fear it could exacerbate the harassment they already sometimes face.
On Monday, a group is gathering outside New Scotland Yard for a “mass picture-taking session” in protest.
The event is organised by the National Union of Journalists. It insists the right to take pictures in public places is “a precious freedom” that must be safeguarded.
NUJ organiser John Toner said: “Police officers are in news pictures at all sorts of events – football matches, carnivals, state processions – so the union wants to make it clear that taking their pictures is not the act of a criminal.”
Professional and amateur photographers have gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against terror stop and searches.
The photographers say police are intimidating people with cameras in tactics to target possible terrorists.
Last week the European Court of Human Rights ruled the power to stop people without suspicion was indiscriminate.
The government is appealing, saying it is vital to make cities a hostile place for any possible attacker.
Freelance photographer and writer Marc Vallee, who helped organise the protest, said: “It’s quite surreal today but we are pleased with the support.
“It’s quite obvious that professional photographers across the country are being searched because they are photographers not because they are suspicious.
“It’s a common law right to take pictures in public places and we are here to show that.”
The demonstration comes after a year of rising tensions between professional photographers and police over the exact scope of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
– via BBC