What Can I Do If My Rights Were Violated?

Can I film police stops?

Generally, you can film police.

There are some situations when police will be able to dictate where you stand, but there are a very limited number of circumstances when they can legitimately order you to stop photographing or filming on-duty police officers.

Here are some examples:

If there is a safety concern – whether it be a risk to your own safety or that of others – a police officer might order you to move. This might include telling you to step back from an arrest that is taking place, or move away from a hazard like a fire. These types of safety concerns really should focus on where you are standing – not whether you are filming or taking pictures.
To protect the integrity of an ongoing police investigation, the police might also be able to order you to move. For example, if you are standing in a place to film the police that blocks an officer’s path in a chase, the officer might order you to clear the path.
If you intentionally take actions that make it more difficult for police officers to carry out their duties, such as taking photos of an undercover officer with the intent to share and identify the officer publicly, this could be an offence.
Some specific places may have additional restrictions about filming, for example (and there may be others):

  • Many hospitals have restrictions on taking videos or pictures to protect patient privacy.
  • If you are filming from a private space, such as someone’s house or backyard, you generally need the property owner’s permission to be there. But that’s a decision the property owner makes – not the police.

Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says:

Everyone has the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”