In what may be good news to photographers (should this get a wider rollout) Amateur Photographer is reporting that following a review of the current Stop-and-Search powers – which have created unwarranted hassle for many – the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) are suggesting that the Police will normally need reasonable grounds for suspicion before they stop and search someone using anti-terrorism legislation. For example, you need to be doing something more than just being stood there with your tripod and SLR!
The scheme, initially to be piloted in four London boroughs (Newham, Brent, Southwark and Tower Hamlets) from this month, will involve police officers being told to use Section 43 of the Terrorist Act which requires them to have reasonable grounds that a person is involved in a terrorist activity, before stopping them.
They will still be able to use the more general Section 44 (which contains no requirement to have any reasonable grounds to conduct the search) to conduct Stop-and-Search but only for previously agreed sensitive areas/targets.
So what does this mean for us photographers? Well if the Police do want to conduct a Stop-and-Search, under Section 43 they will have to have a better reason to believe you might be involved in terrorist activity than just the fact you were taking a photo. Whether, in reality, this will make much of a difference remains to be seen so keep an eye on the pilot in London.
You can view the entire MPA report, including recommendations, by following the link below.