Can the public videotape police officers?

| 19/04/2016

Is it illegal to videotape a police officer who is in a public place performing his or her duties?

Auntie’s answer: As with many things, the answer is both simple and more complicated. To navigate the intricacies, I consulted with the RCIPS, and received a very helpful response.

The quick reply to your question is that it is not illegal to videotape a police officer performing his or her duties in a public place, and the person recording is not under any legal obligation to inform the officer they are doing so.

The RCIPS official added that if an officer “reacts” to the recording, the person doing the taping can say they are only videotaping public space, though they could also inform the officer of the purpose of the taping.

However, according to the RCIPS, “officers shouldn’t react to those who are just videotaping in public”, but if the person recording starts to harass them or becomes aggressive, that could change the dynamic of the situation.

One other point, recording someone in a public space is different from undertaking any covert type of surveillance or voice recording, which, depending on its use, could result in civil litigation among the parties involved.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This should not be a problem. The police don’t have anything to hide do they?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who will watch the watchers?

  3. Anonymous says:

    When you do record using your smart ass phone, please do it in landscape and not portrait. It plays back better on the facebooks and twitters that way, and then everyone can see clearly what is going on.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Any video would be evidence and the police can ask for the tape and there is an obligation to hand it over to them. They often do ask if the person taking the video is being a jerk.

    • Ironside says:

      Not as clear-cut. Unless the recording is of an actual crime being committed, one has no obligation to turn over recordings to the police after the fact.

      This question is about recording the police in a public space, whether they are arresting someone, investigating something or just walking/driving around.

      As long as no obstruction is placed in their way or interrupts their sworn to upheld duties, the police have no say in members of the public recording them. That’s a good thing and I encourage it.

      Of course you will have some officers wanting to not be recorded, some will try and intimidate you for recording them.

      (Who’s the jerk in this situation?)

      Don’t be intimidated, know your rights and be polite. It goes a long way in being the better person when confronted by authority figures with a power hungry attitude.

      Thankfully, I’ve not seen much of a resistance by police officers trying to stop members of the public from recording them.

      If anything, recording in public makes them be on their best behaviour.

      • Anonymous says:

        Any person has a right to have supplied, any image that they are captured on in public. The police officer has a right to request footage that captures them in a public place. If this means supplying a copy to the officer then so be it.

  5. Ironside says:

    100% legal. Thank you for bringing this question member and for answering it, Auntie.

    As long as one isn’t obstructing a Police Officer during his or her course of executing their duties, you are free to record and cannot be detained nor can one’s recording equipment be seized or confiscated.

    You do not need to hand your recording equipment over, even when asked, unless you have broken any of the above ‘rules’. Just politely decline to do so.

    If forced to do so, protest that it’s not illegal to record police officers in public.

    Hint, if you feel that your recording device will be taken no matter what, and if it’s your Smart phone (as most likely it will be), make sure to lock it and do not provide the unlock code and contact an attorney.

    Remember, always respect the law and it’s enforcers, but do record them as you see fit when in public, but don’t obstruct.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bunkum. Cayman is not America. If the recording is evidence then the police have a legal right to take it and refusing would be a criminal offence in itself.

      • Ironside says:

        Of course. IF it’s evidence. You same to have missed the keyword, Evidence and -If- it’s a recording of something that the police can/could use in an investigation.

        Again, this is about recording the police, in public, going about their general business and job duties.

        Hopefully a crime is not going on at the same time and place. But if it is, there you go.

        • Anonymous says:

          Anything video of things happening during a crime, an arrest or an investigation etc can be evidence.