Press photographers have claimed a victory after forcing the Metropolitan Police to issue new guidelines concerning police treatment of snappers covering news events.
A key part of the rules state that police have ?no power to delete or confiscate? images captured by press photographers without a court order, even if police believe that the pictures may contain evidence of a crime.
The move follows what photographers describe as ?worsening relations? with the police, particularly after the terrorist attacks in London on 7 July 2005.
Photographers hope that police forces elsewhere in the country will also adopt the guidelines, which follow two years of pressure from the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIOJ), the British Press Photographers Association and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
?The terrorist attacks of July 2005 and subsequent arrests brought matters to a head with many photographers believing that police had gone in for almost gratuitous obstruction,? said Paul Stewart, the chairman of the CIOJ?s Photography Division. ?We all work for the public. The police work to ensure law and order as we work as their eyes and ears.?
The new police guidelines can be viewed at www.epuk.org/news/2006/03/guidelines2.html.
Guidelines for press photographers are available at www.epuk.org/news/2006/03/guidelines3.html.
Though the new guidelines do not extend to police treatment of photo enthusiasts AP hopes to win Home Office approval for a document that would clearly state photographers? rights when taking pictures in public (see AP website story 8 February 2006).
AP Editor Garry Coward-Williams recently met with influential politicians and keen photographers Austin Mitchell MP and Viscount Allenby to discuss the scheme which aims to make photographers and others more aware of where they stand legally.
The move follows AP?s successful campaign last year to thwart plans to ban or restrict photography in public areas.
AP managed to force a climbdown by London Mayor Ken Livingstone who had controversially proposed warning signs in public areas to alert parents about people taking pictures using digital cameras and camera phones in an attempt crackdown on paedophiles. Livingstone?s plans would effectively have led to unfair targeting of photography enthusiasts purely on the basis that they carry a camera.
Incidentally, Mitchell ? who is MP for Great Grimsby ? has himself been the victim of overzealous treatment by police when an officer deleted the digital images from the camera he was using at the entrance to last year?s Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
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