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NUJ criticises 'inaccurate' Met photography guidance

9 July 2009

The NUJ has criticised new Metropolitan Police guidance that includes inaccurate information about photographers and the police. The Met today issued advice for both amateur and professional photographers taking pictures in London, but failed to consult with the NUJ.

Whilst recognising the rights of photographers to take photos in public places, the guidance goes on to inaccurately say that, under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000, police can demand to see the images that have been taken.

Under section 43, such a demand can only be made where the person is suspected of actually being a terrorist.

The NUJ has been campaigning for the police to do more to ensure frontline officers stop using counter-terrorism legislation to prevent journalists from doing their jobs.

Roy Mincoff, NUJ Legal Officer, said:

"The police know that we have very significant concerns around these issues, yet they have issued guidelines without any prior consultation.
"Had they spoken to us in advance then we could have pointed out the inaccuracies within the document. The police do not have the right to view photographs unless they reasonably suspect the photographer to be a terrorist – that's a far higher test than this guidance suggests.
"What's more, the special nature of journalistic material means that the police will need a court order if they want to see photographs taken by professional journalists. To suggest that police have the power to see anyone's photos is not just hugely misleading, it's factually wrong."

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, called on the police to enter a proper dialogue with the NUJ:

"This guidance sends completely the wrong message to photographers and police on the ground.
"After all our campaigning on this issue, it's unbelievable that these guidelines have come out without any prior discussion. The police need to withdraw this advice immediately so that consultation can take place over guidance that accurately reflects the police's powers."

Tags: , photographers, metropolitan police, nuj, press freedom, terrorism act, police