Stop and search: Photographers welcome European ruling (update 1.40pm)

January 12, 2010

UK-based architectural photographer Grant Smith who has been stopped several times under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act has welcomed as ‘excellent news’ today’s European ruling that police use of the law is illegal.

Commenting on the European case, which involved two people who were stopped by police outside a London arms exhibition in 2003, Smith told Amateur Photographer: ‘The [Terrorism Act 2000] legislation goes against their human rights [under the European Convention on Human Rights].’

Jeff Moore, chairman of the British Press Photographers’ Association, described the European ruling as ‘great news’.

The move comes as amateur and professional photographers prepare to defend their rights to take pictures in public at a ‘mass photo gathering’ to be held in Trafalgar Square, London on 23 January.

He confirmed that the protest will still go ahead.

Representatives of Amateur Photographer magazine, which has campaigned on this issue for several years, are also expected to attend.

The event’s organisers, ‘I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist’, said today: ‘Our society’s visual history is under threat of extinction by anti-terrorism legislation. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act has, in effect, ended the confidence of the citizen to engage in the act of photography in a public place as photographers, artists and illustrators – amateur and professional – are harassed by police invoking terrorism legislation to stop and search them.

‘The act of documenting our street scenes and public life, our built environment, whether iconic or not, is now considered to be an act of hostile reconnaissance and could result in the detention of the image maker.’

Before Christmas, police swooped on Grant Smith in the City of London after he refused to give his personal details to a security guard at a building nearby.

He had been taking photos of a church as part of a project.

The incident sparked widespread media coverage.



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