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In PublicAs an IAC member you are unlikely, in the course of normal movie making in a public place to have any problems with the police unless you are causing an obstruction. If your filming is questioned by a police officer, explain calmly and politely what you are doing. Follow any advice given by the officer. Chief Police Officers have made clear that only highly unusual circumstances should prevent the taking of pictures in a public place.
You can download here statements from:
- The Association of Chief Police Officers (covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland) statement.
- The Association of Chief Police Officers of Scotland statement.
Print them out and carry them with your camcorder if you wish.
If a police officer insists that you stop filming, then do so. There may be security issues of which you are unaware.
Keep in mind that no one has the right to erase your pictures without a court order - not least because they might be used as evidence in any court case against you!
In PrivateTechnically all of Britain is owned by private persons, companies, organisations or the Queen. (e.g. a "public park" is probably owned by the town council.) Any of those landlords can impose whatever limits on photography or film making they wish. Most do not restrict non-commercial photography, but commercial work often requires permission and sometimes payment.
In practice taking pictures from the public highway or most places generally accessible to the public is unlikely to be challenged. Shopping malls, theatres, stadiums and the like usually do enforce restrictions.
People do not own their own appearance! Britain does not have privacy laws, so no one can stop you filming them … provided you are not breaking some other law to do so - such as trespassing. There is no law against photographing or filming children, provided the images are decent in nature. Schools (private premises) do usually forbid it.
But be sensible. If your filming upsets someone try to calm the situation and if necessary stop.
Be careful about filming "prohibited places" without permission. These include military establishments, aircraft and ships; most airports and naval dockyards and many telecommunications centres. You may be challenged by security forces. Once again a polite explanation of what you are doing is likely to resolve the situation, but you may be told to stop.
In GeneralBelle Doyle, Locations Department Manager for Creative Scotland (the national body set up to assist film and television makers), who is obviously well aware of this situation gave us advice which would apply throughout the United Kingdom:
After the Counter-Terrorism Act of 2008, it is now illegal to film or take photographs of police officers working. It is still legal to take photographs or film in a public area but the police might stop you and ask you what you are doing.
In reality, the police really can't prevent people taking photographs, but they can seize the photos and threaten people with imprisonment and fines. For film and tv drama, obviously, this isn't an issue as the people being filmed are not real police - however, we would advise anyone filming on the streets anywhere in Scotland to inform the police and/or the local film office, so that the police know what's going on. I would always seek permission for photographing any places where there might be terrorist issues - airports, railway stations, etc. And we supply location scouts with a letter of introduction on headed paper with our contact details on, for people to contact this office if they need to (it's normally suspicious home-owners).
Guidance OnlyWe are not lawyers and offer this information for practical guidance only.
Ron Prosser FACI
|Page updated on 19 December 2011 Join us on Facebook UNICA member|