I literally 'asked the police' (www.askthe.police.uk) a variety of questions on filming in public, and they directed me to this page.

My questions:

- What can I film whilst in a public space?
- What can't I film whilst in public space?
- Do I need the permission of anyone in a public space who may accidentally 'feature' in the footage (for example, being in the foreground of the shot, in focus)?
- Under what circumstances am I forced to stop filming, including the grounds on which the Police would ask me to stop filming?
- Am I allowed to film police activity?
- Do I need permission off the council to film on pavements?
- Are any of the laws/rules more 'relaxed' when applied to news crews covering factual events?
- Are there any circumstances in which an individual could be asked to hand over and/or wipe footage that they have recorded, for example at the request of a police officer?
- To what extent am I allowed to 'protect' my shot, e.g. asking people to move slightly, and if they refuse, what grounds do I have to repeatedly ask?
- Are there any leaflets/documentation/passes etc that entitle me to more 'enhanced' privileges, apart from the NUVJ union passes?
Official Mainstream Answer:

It is not illegal to take photographs or video footage in public places unless it is for criminal or terrorist purposes.

There will be places where you have access as a member of the public, but will have to ask permission or may be prevented altogether. These could include stately homes, museums, churches shopping malls, railway stations and council/government buildings. You need to check the situation out on a case by case basis.

The taking of photographs of an individual without their consent is a civil matter. Taking a photo of a person where they can expect privacy (inside their home or garden) is likely to be a breach of privacy laws. The other issue to consider is what you plan to do with the photograph afterwards. If the picture is of an individual, perhaps as a portrait or character study, and you intend to publish it in any way (on the internet, in a book or at a gallery), it would be appropriate and may avoid unnecessary complications if you ask that person for permission, many media organisations are international and will not accept an identifiable photograph of a person without a signed release. If the photo could be seen as defamatory in some way then you would leave yourself open to civil proceedings.

The country is in a heightened state of alert (and will be for many years) because of potential terrorist attacks. So called 'soft targets' are particularly vulnerable. Security staff, the general public and police are much more aware of anyone taking photographs and you may be approached by someone, such as the police, when you are taking photographs near or in potential targets. Generally the police cannot seize the camera or memory card unless you are committing an offence or suspected of terrorist activity.

Finally, it is a specific offence to elicit information (which would include photographs) about members of armed forces, police officers or the intelligence services, which is likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or publishes or communicates information of that kind. The law does not state that the person who gets the information has to use the information for terrorism purposes, just that the information is likely to be useful to a terrorist.There is a defence of 'reasonable excuse' for this offence, but it would be for the suspect/defendant to raise this matter.

Photographers need to be aware of this provision and be cautious when taking such photographs. The sort of occasion when it could cause a problem may be, for example, at an anti-war protest, when there may be a number of counter terrorism and intelligence operatives working in the area. If an officer makes an arrest for this offence it could cause a lot of unnecessary time wasted for both the officer and yourself, albeit that may only be until the facts are clarified.
Added information:

With regards to protecting your shot, you can ask a person to move but they are under no obligation to do so and you may ask them again if you so wish.

With regards to extra privileges, to our knowledge there are no licences/passes/leaflets available to any person.
All the above information is copyrighted/trademarked to the PNLD 2010 and has been copied here purely for reference.

Original article: https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q717.htm

Hope this clarifies some things for people filming in the UK!


PS I've been very busy recently, plus I've got exams coming up, but I've got a major project in line for the summer (off my own back) so I'll be back in due course!!!