Despite this, the NUJ has repeatedly expressed worries during 2008 about incursions on the right to photograph. Amateur Photographer magazine has received so many complaints from its readership that it has begun to compile a log of police interventions: and an even more unlikely group – trainspotters – have also begun to complain strenuously about police interference with their hobby.
Matters were not helped by Home Office "clarification" of the right to photograph late in 2008, which concedes the right to photograph, while asserting the right of police to lay down restrictions on photography for local operational reasons. The guidance also introduced a new and dangerous twist, mentioning Breach of the Peace as a potential factor in whether photography would be allowed.
Speaking in advance of the protest, John Toner, the NUJ’s organiser who looks after freelance photographers, said: "Police officers are in news pictures at all sorts of events – football matches, carnivals, state processions – so the union wants to make it clear that taking their pictures is not the act of a criminal.
"Our members are photographers – not terrorists."
Mark Thomas, who is expected to attend, has now begun a campaign against police over-use of stop powers. The principle he is adopting is that if police waste his time unlawfully, he will most certainly waste theirs, by taking legal action against them. He has produced a handy card for members of the public to use if stopped by the police.
A spokesman for the Met commented that they are aware of the demonstration on Monday – which will start at 11am on the Broadway, outside New Scotland Yard. Those planning to attend should be aware that a part of this area falls within the "parliamentary exclusion zone" created by s.132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
Police reaction will therefore be interesting, on many levels. ®