Police crackdown on City photographers

December 11, 2009

Silk Street photo

Picture credit: Graham White

If you are planning to take photos of buildings around the City of London you may want to think again. Anti-terrorism police have instructed security guards to treat as suspicious anyone seen taking photos who hasn’t notified the building’s security personnel beforehand.

UPDATE: Police issue written advice for photographers.

Among the latest victims of the crackdown is Graham White who was taking photos of a building for a website.

He told Amateur Photographer that he was stopped by a security guard while taking pictures of the Linklaters building on Silk Street, EC2 last Friday (see image above).

‘The security guard told me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of their building. I pointed out that it was a public place and there were no restrictions on any photography, and that if he could show I was on private property I would happily stop and move on.

‘He replied that the Linklaters building was of no architectural interest (a matter of opinion) and that the City of London Police were asking that anyone seen taking pictures be reported to them.’

A security official for Linklaters, a law firm, told Amateur Photographer that all the firm’s security staff have been instructed to alert police about anyone taking photos – amateur or professional – unless the photographer has already notified security about their intentions.

‘We can’t stop them [the photographer],’ he admitted but added: ‘We would notify police that someone is taking photos of the building.’

He said security guards have to be aware of photographers seen taking pictures ‘looking into the building’ and which appear to include security staff.

A spokeswoman for City of London Police said that if security see someone taking pictures of ‘personnel, entrances or cameras,’ for example, and they feel concerned after asking them ‘what they are doing’, then they are right to report it to the police.

She said security guards alert police ‘if they are unsure’ as to the nature of the photos.

Police advise photographers to inform a security official of their intentions, prior to taking pictures.

‘We are chock full of iconic buildings and have had terrorist attacks,’ the spokeswoman added.

AP has asked City of London Police to provide official written advice for photographers.


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