Photographers are increasingly being viewed as potential criminals by police, according to the Bureau of Freelance Photographers (BFP), which has reported a rise in complaints from members.

?In many cases police are using stop and search powers without reasonable cause to prevent photographers ? both amateur and professional – taking pictures,? claims the BFP in a statement.

The BFP was formed in 1965 to help freelance and aspiring freelance photographers sell their pictures.

?An increasing number of members have sought help from the BFP after facing what they consider harassment,? it adds.

The organisation cites the case of a photographer who complained after police stopped him taking pictures of the Christmas light switch-on in Ipswich, as reported by AP last month.

?Another member claims he is constantly ?moved on? when innocently taking pictures in London. ?Putting up tripods merely compounds the so-called offence,? added the BFP member.

?The simple fact is that the police do not have the right, except in exceptional circumstances, to stop people taking pictures in public places,? said BFP spokesman John Tracy.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which co-ordinates police policy nationwide, told us it does not believe such problems are widespread.

A spokesman for the body – which has been involved in agreeing guidelines concerning police treatment of press photographers – said: ?It is a public order issue and it is down to individual police forces.?

He suggested that such issues do not normally concern the act of taking photographs but what else the photographer may be suspected of doing at the time.

For details of the BFP visit or call 020 8882 3315.