ACPO to re-issue guidance on treatment of photographers

The Association of Chief Police Officers is to re-issue guidance about dealing with the media after a police sergeant made a freelance photographer delete images from her camera.

Andy Trotter, chairman of ACPO’s media advisory group, agreed to the move during a meeting with Bob Satchwell, director of the Society of Editors.

The move comes after photographer Carmen Valino was threatened with arrest and handcuffing by a police sergeant last month as she took pictures for Hackney Gazette at a murder scene in east London.

Earlier in July, British Transport Police admitted that a Community Support Officer acted beyond his powers by claiming a photo-journalist was acting unlawfully by taking pictures of an arrest.

Satchwell said in the update: “In a previously arranged meeting we agreed that we needed to do all we can to get the message down to front line police officers that they do not have powers to seize cameras and confiscate images.

“If the message does not get through journalists should always keep calm and challenge anyone, police officers or security guards, to name the law they are acting under.

“The media advisory group is also consulting on new general media guidelines that are designed to promote greater openness and predicated on the assumption that information should be released to the public through the media unless there is a good reason to withhold it. This is valuable positive thinking.”

Current ACPO guidance on dealing with the media states: “Members of the media have a duty to take photographs and film incidents and we have no legal power or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict what they record.

“It is a matter for their editors to control what is published or broadcast, not the police.

“Once images are recorded, we have no power to delete or confiscate them without a court order, even if we think they contain damaging or useful evidence.”

It also states: “Members of the media do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places.”

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