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Council: 'We have a right to question all photographers'

Discussion in 'News - Discussion' started by CSBC, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. surf_digby

    surf_digby Well-Known Member

    From the Police website:
    "Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places "

    If it is - by legal definition - a public place, then you do not need prior permission to take a photograph. If the landowner wishes to impose a restriction as a term of entry, then that's their perogative. However, the Council in question has stated that no such policy of restriction exists.
  2. Gromit

    Gromit RIP

    Many private places allow public access, such as shopping centres etc who are quite entitled to impose conditions of entry. On the other hand all public land will probably be owned by the local council, which in turn is paid for by the public. So when the landowner (local council) puts in place terms which restrict the rights of the public (who own the council) who do we turn to for clarification?
  3. BikerMike

    BikerMike Well-Known Member

    I find this very interesting. If it is correct, it implies that even privately-owned shopping malls may be included. Can that be?

    It would fly right in the face of what we have been led to believe about the right to take photos within these malls. According to the above Public Order Act, a privately owned premise with public access would become a "Public place"

    Or have I misunderstood something here?

    Regards, Mike
  4. selkirkwolf

    selkirkwolf Member

    And I have the right to question all councilors and council employees, as they work for me and I pay their wages. Also as Parish Council Chairman I invite all photographers to come and take as many Pictures as they want and they will not be hasselled.
  5. selkirkwolf

    selkirkwolf Member

    ooops meant to say come to Isle of Wight
  6. Bejay

    Bejay Well-Known Member

    The gotcha is in the second part of the para
    "..to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise"
    Commercial premises such as shopping malls permit users entry/access under whatever T&Cs they may have or choose to enforce - the 'no photography' would be such a T&C.
  7. Gromit

    Gromit RIP

    I think that the Public Order Act is being taken out of context as far as this thread is concerned. You can do things in private that might be illegal to do in a "public place". Being a public place doesn't mean that the area is not privately owned.
  8. Spen45

    Spen45 Member

    To have a fair on a footway the council should have had a TRO in place which would have the effect of stopping public access in it's usual sense and allowing public access for the purpose of attending the fair. For the period of the fair the land would effectively be private. This would be similar to the closure of a road for road works where members of the public are not allowed to use the road but people involved in the works have acess (a clumsy analogy but sort of explains how different rstrictions could apply).

    Geren, I suggested that he land could be owned by the council as most public places like that are. If the paved area is not owned by the council but appears on the list of streets, commonly known as being adopted by the council, then the top soil would be vested with the highways authority, of then the council. In many, if not most, high streets the property's bordering the highway, road and footway, will not own any land much beyond their doors. Ultimately all land in the UK, and any other countries with the Queen as head of state and the British Antartic Territory, belongs to the crown. Buying a freehold only gives a person the right to use piece of land until the crown feels the need to take possession.
  9. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    So are we sure that a TRO would remove the regular well known right of photography on a public highway?

    Would it need to be in the TRO to possibly be legal?

    Road work access is for H&S reason which everyone I suspect would agree is a wise lockout for the public.

    I have to say it the first time I read of a council event having such a clamp down on everyday shooting.

    We have such events here alot, never read or heard of such a policy. :confused:

    Also as pointed out if the council officials went after every smartphone user there would I suspect be a serious backlash from every day public who just want to create that family memory for the album or FB.
  10. BikerMike

    BikerMike Well-Known Member

    Thanks, that makes more sense.

    Presumably then, a council could also have T&Cs in the shape of byelaws or something similar.

    Out of curiosity, I have emailed Merthyr Tydfil Council and asked them what powers they believe they have to prevent street photography without their permission.

    It'll be interesting to see their reply.

    Regards, Mike
  11. pogofish

    pogofish New Member

    I'm unable to post a new thread but here is something that may be of interest from Scotland - it seems that taking photos is still very much a "suspicious" activity:

  12. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    It is quite reasonable for the police to gather intelligence about people photographing objects or activity which could be of use to terrorists or enemy powers. I see nothing wrong with the "Project Kraken" document ... in fact it's common sense.

    What is wrong IMHO is blanket banning on photography in areas where there may be "sensitive targets" ... most such activity will be innocentand, more to the point, a ban will not deter those who are sufficiently motivated and will almost certainly be using covert methods anyway.

    Personally I see no point in banning photography in areas that the public have normal access to. (That includes airports, ferry terminals etc.) Nevertheless I accept that there are areas where public access inluding photography needs to be controlled "in the national interest".

    But the real point here is that control of citizens on publically accessible land is the duty of the police force, not of council busybodies. If the council has reason to believe that someone on their property is taking photographs which are obscene or for the purposes of planning criminal activity, they should not be "questioning" (for which they have no legal right) but taking action to enable the police to deal with the situation. Yes, we all know that police reaction is not always at the most appropriate level, but I'd far rather answer questions in a police interview room than at the hands of a bunch of vigilantes.
  13. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Good post, bjb.

    'Project Kraken is a national initiative set up to increase public vigilance'

    Exactly. Should be vigilance by public- even using photography, if necessary. There was talk of banning perimeter photography at Heathrow many years ago after an attempted terrorist attack. Fortunately, some sensible people managed to convince those in favour of a ban that once enthusiasts with cameras and mobile phones and familiar with day to day airport activity were excluded from the area any attempt at covert surveillance would have less chance of being spotted and the appropriate authorities notified.

    I have an uncomfortable suspicion that there are other 'things' going on around these attempts at photographer restriction but then I do like a good conspiracy theory so maybe I'm at fault there ...
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  14. pogofish

    pogofish New Member

    However, its not like taking a photo of a boat, bridge or harbour is something that a photographer/tourist etc would never do, is it? And frankly, Grampian Police don't have a particularly good history when it comes to photographers/film makers going about their lawful activities.

    Mind you, anyone wielding a camera around harbours in this part of the world is more likely to get the locals a bit edgy about unauthorised fish landings and the like
  15. pogofish

    pogofish New Member

    I can't link anything to support it but a few years back, the RAF made it quite clear that they viewed their planespotters very positively as an asset when it came to matters of security.
  16. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Gathering intelligence ("being suspicious") is a lot different from direct intervention ... if someone is going round taking multiple photographs of all the bridges in the Scottish Highlands they might be looking for an opportunity for a terrorist attack, but it's far more likely that they're simply documenting the bridges. If the latter I'd have no difficulty answering sensible questions posed by a policeman ... to have a civilian claiming to be a council official demanding that I not take photographs and/or that I delete images taken and/or that I answer questions which they have no right to ask is a completely different issue.

    We employ police to safeguard the public (us!) and there is a clear duty amongst the law abiding to enable them to carry out their official duties. (That does not mean that we necessarily support them on those occasions when they exercise their power in an unreasonably clumsy or violent manner.)

    Indeed, that's why we as photographers need to maintain reasonable relationships with the police in order that they will protect us from local "vigilantes" should the need arise.
  17. Spen45

    Spen45 Member

    A TRO isn't always neccessary for road works, H&S provision is provided in the chapter 8 requirements undertaker have to comply with. The TRO is to stop access so that the surface of the carriageway, footway or footpath can be disturbed as this would otherwise be an offence under the highways or road traffic act, can't remember which off the top of my head. Anywayhow a TRO suspends public rights
  18. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Can confirm it as far as RAF Coltishall was/is concerned.
  19. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

    Paranoia is the true vision of reality.
  20. Bob Maddison

    Bob Maddison Well-Known Member

    Surely the deciding factor in this public / private property debate is whether or not the public are adequately informed of the status. Whilst local bye laws are one thing, it is another matter to inform the public about just what is in those bye laws. This is one area where ignorance of the law IS a good excuse, but once informed by an employee of that place, that excuse is no longer valid and you must stop. If photography is prohibited notices saying so should be prominently displayed thus given the public no excuse.

    However, I suspect that in many cases there is NO specific bye law prohibiting photography and that the "law" is being created on the hoof by officious employees. What is perhaps more worrying is that so often higher officials then defend their staff when in reality their actions are indefensible.

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