The head of the so called ‘terror police’ is asking for Met officers et al to refrain from harrassing the general public when they’re taking pictures with cameras….no need for using terror legislation….as good old public order legislation no doubt will do!
The move, this afternoon, follows widespread criticism of police policy under anti-terror legislation.
The Met’s Assistant Commissioner John Yates has re-released guidance that already appears on the Met’s website, to ‘all 32 borough commanders’.
Yates said the Met risks ‘losing public support’ if officers use their powers in situations that ‘most reasonable people would consider inappropriate’.
However, for the first time the guidance will be distributed via the Met’s internal ‘intranet’ website which is accessible to 55,000 officers and staff.
The guidance will also be relayed to officers directly via an ‘internal briefing’ prior to them patrolling London’s streets, according to a spokesman for the force.
The spokesman said the Met hopes that by ‘bullet pointing’ the guidance (see below), it will be clearer to officers who are unsure of their powers under the Terrorism Act when it comes to photography.
Yates, assistant commissioner of Specialist Operations, said: ‘People have complained that they are being stopped when taking photographs in public places. Those stops are being recorded under Stop and Account and under Section 44 of the TACT [Terrorism Act].
‘The complaints have included allegations that people have been told that they cannot photograph certain public buildings, that they cannot photograph police officers or PCSOs and that taking photographs is, in itself, suspicious.
Whilst we must remain vigilant at all times in dealing with suspicious behaviour, staff must also be clear that:
• 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’
Yates added: ‘Unless there is very good reason, people taking photographs should not stopped.’
Yates tells the Met’s officers and staff today:
‘An enormous amount of concern has been generated about these matters. You will find below what I hope is clear and unequivocal guidance on what you can and cannot do in respect of these sections. This complements and reinforces previous guidance that has been issued.
‘You are reminded that in any instance where you do have reasonable suspicion then you should use your power under the Section 43 TACT 2000 and account for it in the normal way.
‘There are important yet intrusive powers. They form a vital part of our overall tactics in deterring and detecting terrorist attacks. We must use these powers wisely. Public confidence in our ability to do so rightly depends upon your common sense.’
‘We risk losing support when they are used in circumstances that most people would consider inappropriate.’
Developing story…More soon.