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Metropolitan Police Service press statement (21 May 2009)

The Metropolitan Police Service believes it is right that we are held open to legal and public scrutiny in this manner, and that we are held accountable for our actions.

We rigorously defended this case, as the tactic of overt photography is truly valuable in public order policing, and policing per se.

Overt photography is a valuable intelligence-gathering tool allowing officers to build up a clear picture of who is involved in planning and organising any criminal behaviour or disorder at demonstrations. It provides officers with evidence that can be used post event to arrest and convict for a range of offences.

Chief Superintendent Ian Thomas, in charge of the MPS Public Order Branch, said:

"The MPS upholds people's right to lawful and peaceful demonstration, a right that we strive to fulfil. However, we also have to uphold the law. We know that some individuals and groups use the cover of protest to break the law and commit acts of disorder. Obviously that is unacceptable. It can endanger legitimate demonstrators and endanger and severely disrupt the public. We are duty bound to prevent that from happening.

"For our policing plan to be the most effective we need to have the fullest possible intelligence picture. Overt photography helps us build a picture of who is involved in planning and organising any potential disorder or crime. It may also provide us with evidence that would be beneficial to any legal proceedings.

"There is nothing secretive or covert about the way we do this, and this practice is very well known and understood in protestor circles. The MPS will continue to do everything necessary to maintain order on London's streets.

"The findings of this judgement provide a valuable set guidelines for us to continue to work within and we are pleased that the Court of Appeal has found our use of overt photography to be lawful."

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