Andy Trotter: The threat is real, but police must show common sense

Comment

Share
Related Topics

Protecting the public from harm and allowing them to go about their normal daily business with the minimum of intrusion can be a fine balancing act and it is inevitable that police officers will not always get it right. But it is important that we remind ourselves why we use these powers. The terrorist threat is still very real and as long as a renewed attack is a strong possibility we all need to remain vigilant, not only the police but the public too.

Having said that, everyone – photographers, members of the media and the general public – has a right to take photographs and film in public places. It's as simple and as clear as that.

Police officers need the public on their side in order to do an effective job. We are here to serve our public and uphold the rights they enjoy in this country. The threat of terrorism is real, particularly in London, and the power to stop and search anyone under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is an important one. That power, however, only applies in specially designated areas and has to be renewed by the Home Secretary every 28 days.

Police can also stop people and ask them to account for their actions, commonly referred to as a stop and account. Officers are then required by law to record details of that encounter, although the person stopped is under no obligation to provide them.

It is the job of police officers to be vigilant, to keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour and to act accordingly. Taking photographs, however, is not normally cause for suspicion and there are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. I would like to see a return to common sense policing where officers feel able to talk to the public and have a conversation with them, without the need to record every detail or draw on police powers.

London in particular is one of the world's top tourist attractions and there must be millions of photographs of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Earlier this year I wrote to chief officers offering clear guidance around use of these powers and emphasising the importance of ensuring it is fully understood. Acpo also held regional seminars around the country to reinforce the message.

British policing is built on consent, proportionality, trust and accountability. 99 times out of 100 engaging with someone on an informal basis will assure officers that whatever they are doing is not suspicious. Then everyone can continue with their normal course of business.

Andy Trotter is chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers Media Advisory Group

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas