It seems that just about every week a photographer somewhere in the UK has a run in with the Police or security guards whilst taking pictures. With this in mind I thought I would provide you with a list of guide lines covering general photography.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive guide and if you intend to head to airports, train stations etc it will pay you to make enquiries prior to taking any images. This guide is correct at the time of publication but is not a legal document and is only intended to be used as a general "aid memoir".
Your rights: Public vs Private.
You do not need a permit when taking photographs in public, this includes taking images of private buildings whilst stood on public land. Please remember that some area's of public land, particularly in London, may be subject to bye laws governing photography so if in doubt check first.
You have no right to deliberately enter private land at any time. This can be construed as trespass. If you inadvertently find yourself on private land (some land maybe private but unmarked as such) and are asked to leave by the land owner or persons acting on the owners behalf, then you must do so immediately. Any refusal to leave may also be construed as trespass.
I would advise all of you to use common sense and if you have any doubts then err on the side of caution and make enquiries first.
Your rights when taking pictures of people in public.
There are currently no general rules when photographing people in public but you should always consider others rights to privacy. If in doubt then ask the person you are taking images of. If you intend to use the image commercially then consider using a model release form. Whilst there is currently no legal requirement to use such paperwork, you may find some stock libraries refuse to take an image without one.
There are also no rules in the UK governing the photography of children but I urge everyone to use common sense as this is a very emotive subject. I personally would never even consider pointing a camera at a child without speaking to the parent first.
Your rights: The Police.
The Police cannot stop you from taking photographs in a public place unless they have very good rights to do so.
The Police cannot ask to view any images unless they have a very good reason to do so.
The Police cannot ask you to delete any images unless they have a very good reason to do so.
The Police cannot seize any photographic equipment unless they have a very good reason to do so.
I use the phrase "very good reason" because the Police do have powers under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 but they must have strong reasons to suspect that you are a terrorist and this does not include taking photographs in public.
Again, I would strongly urge everyone to use common sense if approached by the Police and remain polite throughout.
Your rights: Security Guards.
Security guards have no special rights, they are exactly the same as any other member of the public.
Security guards cannot stop you from taking photographs whilst in a public place.
Security guards cannot ask you to delete images, look at your camera, nor can they seize equipment at any time.
Security guards CAN ask you to stop taking images if you stray onto private land.
I hope you find this post to be of use. Should you find yourself being approached by or speaking to the Police or a security guard please remember to use common sense and at all times remain calm and stay polite.
Until the next time, stay safe.