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Old 12-01-2009, 17:24   #1 (permalink)
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PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

In response to an online petition for clarification over the thorny issue of taking photos in public and where we stand with regards to the law, the Prime Minister has now given his response.

The original petition was as follows:

“Through history, we have documented the world around us, whether through written word, art or photography. Photography in particular has provided fantastic insights into the past and present, and is a hobby enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. But today, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to take photos of our surroundings, particularly in cities like London. In recent years, the price divide between professional and consumer equipment has blurred, and it’s quite common these days to see amateurs and hobbyists carrying around tripods, SLR cameras and a backpack full of equipment. Yet, we are constantly harrassed by security guards and police officers in the name of preventing terrorism. They seem to be operating under a different interpretation of the law to the rest of us, believing that somehow the length of your lens, or size of your camera is relevant. We would like clarification by the goverment on the law regarding photography of buildings and landmarks from public locations.”

The official PM response is:

Thank you for your e-petition asking for clarification of the law on photography in public places.

There are no legal restrictions on photography in public places. However, the law applies to photographers as it does to anybody else in a public place. So there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations, inflame an already tense situation, or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace, to avoid a public order situation, or for the person’s own safety or welfare, or for the safety and welfare of others.

Each situation will be different and it would be an operational matter for the police officer concerned as to what action if any should be taken in respect of those taking photographs. Anybody with a concern about a specific incident should raise the matter with the Chief Constable of the relevant force.

This confirms what several of us have said on this forum: there are no laws preventing the taking of photographs in a public place. However, if the police feel they can make a case for it, they can pretty much do whatever they like to stop us taking pictures simply because a single member of the public doesn't want their little Jimmy in a picture even if it is the back of his head on a beach with thousands of others.

So there you go, really helps clarify the situation don't you think?.... not!

Cheers,
Rob

ps This petition was public forum so it is absolutely fine to copy it here.
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Old 12-01-2009, 17:59   #2 (permalink)
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Re: PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

Surely you did not expect a more definitive answer from a politician . He probably thought he was going out on a limb to say that much
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Old 12-01-2009, 18:15   #3 (permalink)
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Re: PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

so in other words the partition solved sod all, and still the length of lens and shape of camera will decide if we are terrorists. surely if they were terrorists would they not be using smaller camera's to be discreet???
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Old 12-01-2009, 19:02   #4 (permalink)
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Re: PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

That's spot on. If I were a terrorist I'd use a camera phone, not something which is obviously a camera. Or better still look on Google Earth or in the KGB records.
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Old 13-01-2009, 13:42   #5 (permalink)
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Re: PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

Use a Leica. Not a policeman on the planet recognises it as a camera. Better still, a Rolleiflex.

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Old 13-01-2009, 14:09   #6 (permalink)
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Re: PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

Just wonder if SLRs are advertised in the same manner as compacts, would it affect general perception of "big camera = paparazzi"?

If an agitated mum rushes to a policeman demanding him to intervene to stop you taking photo - there is not much to be done, really.
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Old 13-01-2009, 15:00   #7 (permalink)
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Re: PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

Its a sick world!
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Old 13-01-2009, 17:32   #8 (permalink)
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Re: PM responds to petition for clarification on public photography

There is one other way. Shove a release form under the mother's nose, tell her she'll be paid £10,000 by the Sun on publication and watch her change her tune very quickly!

Cheers,
Rob
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