We’ve all heard the scare stories in the media about photographers being harassed by the police. Many parents, teachers and even local authorities are of the opinion that a photographer requires their permission to take photographs of their children. There are cases where photographers have been denied permission to take photographs of their own children at football matches, by other parents with children in the game and grandparents who have been prevented from photographing their own grandchildren in a park. If only they knew their rights!
There is no law in the United Kingdom preventing a photographer from taking photographs in a public place.
The biggest problem photographers face is the ignorance on behalf of public officials (police officers, Community Support Officers and (especially) private security guards), the owners of property and subjects. There are plenty of examples of photographer being told by police and community support officers that they are not allowed to take pictures, when in fact they are perfectly within their rights.
In general, photographers are perfectly within the law to photograph people, including children and the police, landscapes, street and beach scenes and buildings, without breaking the law, whilst in a public place. The difficulty can be in deciding what is a public place….some places are obviously public…or are they? Streets usually are, parks sometimes are, shopping malls rarely are. Some places with public access restrict photography for commercial gain – National Trust property is an example that has been in the press recently.
Six London photographers test their rights to photograph. Makes interesting viewing.