Lens Cloth of Rights

AP Lens Cloth

One day, the British police might get the hang of what it is that photographers can and cannot do in public places, and stop telling us that we can’t take pictures because it contravenes the Terrorism Act 2000. Until then, how about a handy-dandy lens cloth which sets out your rights as a photographer on it?

If you pick up a copy of Amateur Photographer on Tuesday 6 July, you’ll also get a free lens cloth that states, very clearly, what you are allowed to do — or even what the police aren’t allowed to do — if you are taking pictures when out and about. There are five points, and they were issued by no less than the Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations at the Metropolitan Police Service as the guidance for dealing with professional and amateur photographers in public places. Doesn’t get clearer than that, really, does it?

And just for completeness, or if you’d like to print off the guidance, laminate it, and keep it with your camera, here’s a recap of what it says:

  • there is no restriction on people taking photographs in public places or of any building other than in very exceptional circumstances
  • there is no prohibition on photographing front-line uniform staff
  • the act of taking a photograph in itself is not usually sufficient to carry out a stop
  • unless there is a very good reason, people taking photographs should not be stopped
  • officers do not have the power to delete digital images, destroy film or to prevent photography in a public place under either power (Sections 43 and 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000).

Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’re outside Britain, but these links might be useful if you’re in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the United States.

Happy snapping!