The Perils of Filming in Public


Annabelle Lancaster


This is an adaptation of an article in the North Thames Region newsletter written by Arthur Gatcum, a former policeman.

Under the ‘Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (Freedom of Panorama)’ the taking of photographs or video footage of buildings, sculptures and other art in public places is generally permitted without infringing any copyrights.

The Police – Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places, and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.

The use of a tripod can attract the attention of police for two reasons:

  1. You could be obstructing the footway and
  2. They consider you a professional and in certain areas a license is required to film.

For those in the Bromley area you definitely need prior permission to film in The Glades (0208 313 9292) or Orpington Walnuts (01689 832923).

Airports – Amateurs must gain consent from the press office at the airport by written application and signing the airport’s Terms and Conditions. You will need Public Limited Liability Insurance worth £5 million.

Royal parks – Obtain permission to film, shoot stills or use a tripod on 0200 061 2110 or email

National Trust – There are restrictions at some properties, especially for tripods, so always check in advance with the property concerned

English Heritage

Museum and Art Galleries – Photography generally prohibited inside. Contact Department of Culture, Media and Sport

email phone 020 7211 6000

Trafalgar SquarePhotography allowed in the Square but talk to a warden before using a tripod.

or phone 0207 983 4000

Network Rail – Restrictions apply on railway stations. 0207 557 8000 – 020 0207 904 7375 –

London Underground – They do have a permit for non professionals. Crew size: five or less with handheld equipment only. Cost £50 incl.VAT. Films must not be placed on the Internet. You also need insurance.

Cathedrals – Permits are required for tripod users. Contact cathedral wardens in writing or go to

I can’t vouch for all the phone numbers, and you might need to search around the web sites, but on the whole I hope you find the information useful.

EDITOR’S ADDENDUM: You might also want to avail yourself of one of these:

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