Thursday, July 03, 2008

Street photography in UK unofficially restricted by cops

In a disturbing decision in the UK, local police can now stop street photographers from taking pictures for, basically, any reason.

While there is no legal justification for such action according to British law, the police may choose to stop someone from taking pictures as an "operational decision." A spokesman for the British Home Office told Freelance: UK that "it is for the chief constable to to ensure that officers and police community support officers are acting appropriately with regards to photography in public places,” and goes on to say that “decisions may be made locally to restrict photography, for example to protect children."

So, the bad news for my friends in the UK who have produced some of the most entertaining, thought-provoking and moving street photos in the world is that they may continue to do so at the risk of having their equipment confiscated and being arrested, and their right to free expression has been unofficially revoked.

The only good news is that more than a third of all Members of Parliament now back a petition on the right to take pictures in public places unchallenged by officials. The motion has recieved cross-party support. Let's hope that support continues to grow.

So good luck guys and, to quote a line from one of my all-time favorite police drama TV shows, Hill Street Blues, careful out there.

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