It can be a daunting experience to be out innocently taking photographs, and then to receive a tap on the shoulder by a police officer asking what are you doing? Fear not as for 99% of the time you can politely reply “Taking photographs” and that should be the end of it.
Let’s have a look at what rights you have when taking photographs in public places. As a side note this is for those of you in the UK.
There is no restriction of taking photographs in public places or buildings other than in very exceptional circumstances*. The keyword here is public, if you’re in a library/train station then you can snap away. If you walk on into a private law firm and start to photograph the architecture, you’ll likely be escorted out of the premises. Out of courtesy, it is always best to inform an employee of the public area that you are going to be taking photographs.
There is no injunction on photographing front-line uniform staff, even if they tell you not to.
The act of taking a photograph in itself is not usually sufficient reason for a police officer to carry out a stop. You can refuse and state your rights.
Unless there is a very good reason, people taking photographs should not be stopped.
Officers do not have the power to delete files, destroy film or to prevent you taking photographs in a public place under [either] section 43 or 44 of the terrorism act 2000.
*an example of this – Two public locations in the UK, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, have a specific provision against photography for commercial purposes without the written permission of the Mayor, or the Squares’ Management Team and paying a fee, and permission is needed to photograph or film for commercial purposes in the Royal Parks.