The public will never know how many photographers have been stopped by the Metropolitan Police under anti-terrorism laws because, admits the force, it does not record the information on a computer database.
Rejecting for a second time a Freedom of Information (FoI) request lodged by Amateur Photographer magazine (AP) the Met said: ‘There is no specific code on the Stops database that specifically relates to searches involving photographers, the MPS would therefore have to conduct a manual search of the free text wording of every individual stop and search form to identify the information you require.’
Section 44 gives police officers the power to stop someone without reasonable grounds for suspicion that they are involved in a terrorist activity.
AP had asked the Met to reveal the number of people – photographers and non-photographers – successfully charged and convicted as a direct result of Section 44.
AP had filed the FoI request ahead of the publication of a damning report by Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws. In his report, published earlier this month, Lord Carlile said that no stops under Section 44 have ever led to a conviction.
The rejection comes a month after the Met refused AP’s request for information about the number of people it stops – but not necessarily charged – after being seen taking photos.
Refusing AP’s demands once again, the Met indicated that the cost of extracting information relating to photographers would run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, thereby exceeding its ‘£450’ cost limit.