UK Crime Minister Reassures Photogs

More good news for photographers in the UK. A week after UK’s terror tsar called for the abolition of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, UK’s Crime Minister David Hanson has new statements assuring photographers that anti-terrorism legislation should not be used to hinder photography. He is quoted as saying,

I recently met with Austin Mitchell MP, members of the Parliamentary All Party Photography Group and representatives of the photographic press and the Royal Photographic Society to discuss the issue of counter terrorism powers and offences in relation to photography.

I welcomed the opportunity to reassure all those concerned with this issue that we have no intention of Section 44 or Section 58A being used to stop ordinary people taking photos or to curtail legitimate journalistic activity.

Guidance has been provided to all police forces advising that these powers and offences should not be used to stop innocent member of the public, tourists or responsible journalists from taking photographs.

These powers and offences are intended to help protect the public and those on the front line of our counter terrorism operations from terrorist attack. For the 58A offence to be committed, the information is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

I have committed to writing to Austin Mitchell MP to reinforce this message and to follow-up on the representations made.

Indeed, news of photographers being stopped unreasonably has died down in recent weeks, so it seems as though things are becoming more photographer-friendly in the UK. If you’re in the UK, have you noticed any improvement?

(via Digital Photography Now)

Image credit: Shooting the Man by neate photos

  • KMtog

    I don't believe this is actually getting through to those police on the beat. We've had lots of similar statements before, all contradicted by reports of photographers being stopped and questioned. The problem with guidelines is that they are not compulsory. Organisations, bodies and groups have set out guidelines in the past but doesn't mean anyone has to actually adhere to them. An example of this is industries providing food and drink to people (e.g. cafes, bars, etc), with guidelines created by umbrella representative organisations to encourage their members to provide non-smoking areas for people. Hardly anyone followed them, and for years they argued “but we've got guidelines”. That was meant to be sufficient, but it really wasn't, until legislation was put in place banning smoking in public places.

    As the recent example of the photographer filming his own arrest shows, the police have now found something else to use instead – “anti-social behaviour”. In my opinion, they're looking for excuses.

    As a photographer in the UK, I've lost all faith in the UK police, and wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if it ever transpired that they are saying one thing and advising something completely different internally.

    Am I reassured? In a word: no.

  • Moira Pomeroy

    Do you have a citation for the source material?

    I tend to agree with KMtog, this doesn't mean much at all. And just because a politician says “we have no intention of Section 44 or Section 58A being used to stop ordinary people taking photos or to curtail legitimate journalistic activity” doesn't mean that intentions can't change. As long as the law allows them to harass us, these incidents will continue.

  • Michael Zhang

    Should have made it more clear. We saw the story on Digital Photography Now, but it seems the original was either from Amateur Photographer:

    or dpreview