Saturday, 23 January 2010

City Police making up ID powers.

More than 2,000 photographers attended the demonstration today in Trafalgar Square to proclaim their common-law right to take pictures in public places.

On the same day that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that stop and search powers under the Terrorism Act were too wide, it emerged that City of London police were claiming they may demand identification from photographers – powers that no legislation gives them. In a statement given to Amateur Photographer, City of London Police said:

"Photographers should carry identification where possible and be prepared to answer questions about why they are taking photographs, if they are asked."

Even under the controversial - now, arguably illegal - 'stop and account' powers in the Terrorism Act 2000, police have no power arbitrarily to demand you identify yourself, let alone produce documents on the spot. They can only do so in connection with the investigation of a suspected offence.

Phil Booth, NO2ID's National Coordinator, said:

"Even the Terrorism Act does not give police power to demand identification arbitrarily. In backing this 'advice to photographers' by vague menaces, the City force is trying to make it compulsory to carry ID in the square mile. Anyone with a mobile is a photographer nowadays.

It is not a free country where police make up powers to suit themselves. If what you are doing is lawful, then your identity no business of the police. This is a perfect illustration of the danger of the government’s ID scheme. They'll say they 'need to know'. They don't. Official ID obsession means harassment for citizens - legally or illegally."

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