This post was published in December 2009 and may contain facts or opinion that are no longer current.

Section 44, TERRORISM!

I only just saw this Guardian video of a stop and search because of filming near the entrance of the Gherkin in London.

If you’re rushed, start at 2:45 in:

Plain clothes police officer: I’m going to take a note of your details under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Do you understand that? Journalist: Is this an official search? Plain clothes police officer: Not a search, no, I’m taking your details to find out exactly what you’re doing.

You can go and read Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 if you want. It’s not very long. I think that police officer should probably give it another going over before citing it so easily.

(2) An authorisation under this subsection authorises any constable in uniform to stop a pedestrian in an area or at a place specified in the authorisation and to search— (a) the pedestrian; (b) anything carried by him.

Percentage of Section 44 which this officer understands?


Respect I have for him, and by extension the Metropolitan Police, after watching this video?

Um. Yeah.

If you’re interested in seeing more, Cory’s got another great video.


By Vanderdecken on 15 December 2009 at 19:23:

Wonderful. Join the EFF, the Open Rights Group, Liberty and Amnesty International; and send the message that We Are Photographers not Terrorists. The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 adds to the scary:

Also, your link are borked because of the encoding of the # as %23. it?

By Michael Henley on 15 December 2009 at 20:59:

I am going to start carrying a copy of the Terrorism Act in my camera bag. This is nuts. I understand the need, but it is just a little bit bonkers that there is so little understanding of the law amongst the police, let alone the average Joe.

By Vanderdecken on 15 December 2009 at 21:33:

@Michael Henley: Even better, carry the I’m A Photographer Not a Terrorist Bust Card too:

And printouts of all the recent mainstream press articles on these absurd cases wouldn’t hurt, some of them give advice and you can always hold them up to the power-tripping PCSO or whoever and ask them if they’d like to be tomorrow’s headline. For that matter, carry a copy of the email from Andy Trotter of the ACPO advising against heavy-handed use of s44:

By Alex Muller on 16 December 2009 at 09:04:

Thanks Greg, fixed the link.

I’ve been linked to a couple of other things to carry round too, the letter from Association of Chief Police officers, and UK Photographers Rights Guide v2.

By Sam on 17 December 2009 at 14:42:

He wasn’t just “randomly” stopped.

He was asked to not film, if you read “” It states “If you want to film on public land you will need permission from the appropriate local authority or council”.

Photographing or videotaping a tourist attraction, whether publicly or privately owned, is generally considered legal, unless explicitly prohibited by posted signs.

If you have nothing to hide, why not show them what you have taken. It would be resolved a lot quicker without making a Hoo-Harr!

The police man was trying to help, yet the filmer is being very very blunt and obtuse.

By Alex Muller on 17 December 2009 at 20:12:

Actually Sam, I think photography in public places is legal; that document seems to be about “film-filming”. is really important, and

That’s kind of the point - he was being blunt and obtuse because technically (apart from the beginning when he was on private property) what he was doing was entirely legal. And he was treated like a terrorism threat.

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From 05PM on Tuesday December 15, 2009

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