Scotland’s Largest City Set To Ban All Photography in Its Subways

Earlier today Amateur Photographer reported that the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) in Glasgow, Scotland is set to impose a series of bylaws for the cities transport, including a ban in section 12.1 which would prohibit riders from “take[ing] photographs, or make[ing] video, audio or visual recordings on any part of the subway.” In fact, the only way around the ban would be to get express written permission from the SPT and show it to any officer that may request to see it.

The obvious outcry from photographers has been that the law is utterly unenforceable, especially given the fact that the wording extends beyond flash and commercial photography. In theory, the byelaw would stop people from mapping out the subway system for terrorist activities, but many believe it goes too far.

While talking to Amateur Photographer Michael Pritchard, director general of the Royal Photographic Society said regarding the rule:

Once again, photography is being targeted in a blanket way that is illogical and offers no benefit to the public or to Strathclyde transport staff.

Some hope that the byelaw, number 12.1, might be reworded to mirror byelaw 11.2, which prohibits the use of musical instruments “in a way which may annoy a reasonable person.” At least in this way the police wouldn’t be stuck trying to keep everyone using a camera phone under wraps.

(via Amateur Photographer)

Image credit: Glasgow District Subway by Bob the courier

  • Bob

    They’ve been stopping you taking photographs on the subway for ages. I’ve been asked a few times not to take photos of my kids or the trains on my phone before and if I’m carrying my dSLR on my hand or in my case on the side of my bag I’ve been asked a few times to put it inside my bag so they can’t see it and I can;t get to it easily.

    As for stopping terrorists. Its a loop with only a handful of stations. They don’t need cameras all they need is a sheet of paper and pen.

  • Adam Cross

    so far any laws against photography on subways (in great britain) have been limited to not being allowed to use your flash because it may distract train drivers – other than that taking photos is fine. At least it has from my experiences in London, anyway. I’ve never once been asked to stop taking photos!

  • Matthew Choi

    I was shooting a video in their subway 4 years ago and was stopped by the station staff when I was leaving the station (after traveling for a few stations), they called the police and had to view the video, then asked me to delete it

  • JD929

    I call security theater. It might give security some feeling of importance, but there is no point to prohibiting photos as long as it’s not inconveniencing anyone. A no-flash rule makes sense for the risk of distracting operators.

  • Batt54

    And Bin Laden wins again.

  • Photographer in Calgary

    Another freedom bites the dust.

  • Mathieu Sagnet

    And what is this bullshit? I Really don’t believe that’s right. All
    Photography! Really? How are will you implement that? What if i want
    to take a picture of the subway or of my friend? Isn’t that my right?
    Isn’t this a PUBLIC place funded by glasgow commuters and tax payers? I really  do wonder whayou think will will be doing with our photographs and films?  As long as you don’t
    invade someone privacy then it should be okay to take whatever
    photograph or film you wan.t If someone gets offended buy you having a
    mobile phone or subsuspect you of infringing there personal space then WTF you are recording them too!!!!. Anyone from the general public having a
    complaint with someone having their mobile phones/cameras out can also report that incident when they leave the tsubway and check the person phone providing enough evidence from your fotage. I
    Don’t know but with the number of smart phones out there that have
    wireless internet how will they police this ? Your probably safer with a DSLR
    photographer as he’s got less connectivity and is more likely to get
    nuisance fae bams !!! We are
    more likely to caputre evidence than obstructing the law! And most importantly, we are
    hosting the common wealth games and you really expect tourist
    not to want to take fucking pictures of your subway when they come and visit us? Get fucking REAL… Anyway it’s  summer time (soon) :-) time to get on a bike

  • Odysseus

    Always keep an empty (old and small) SSD card in your pocket. When you take photos in a place where it is risk to be banned, take the photos in the proper card and then quickly change the empty memory card to the camera.

  • Miki

    or buy a spy camera for a fraction of money, and no one will even bother you.

    Such laws are so stupid!!!

  • Ghost

    I find it strange that places that ban photography always have a ton of security cameras… how come it’s ok for them to record me but I can’t record them…

  • David

    Because this is a consultation at this stage, Transport Scotland are taking submissions that suggest this might not be the best of ideas. If you want to submit one, you can find full details in SPT’s consultation, which is linked from my site at

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  • John R

    12 Filming and recording
    12.1 Passengers must not take photographs, or make video audio or visual recordings on any part of the
    12.2 The only exception to byelaw 12.1 is if a passenger has the written permission of SPT in relation to the
    activity. The passenger must be carrying the permission, show it to an officer on request, and comply
    with any conditions of that permission.

    I find the above proposal to be little short of insane.

    The stupidity of the above idea is breathtaking.

    1, The entire Scottish nation now looks ridiculous.  The mere idea is making you look ridiculous.  Precisely what information is being protected here?

    2, Scotland now looks like an authoritarian state.

    3, Scotland now looks like an oppressive state

    4, The fact that this proposal is solely for the underground is irrelevant, Scotland is looking stupid.  This is shaming your nation.

    5, If it is believed that harm will be done by the presence of cameras on the underground then I suggest you close the entire thing as it is clearly too fragile or volatile, rendering it unsafe and unfit for purpose.

    My immediate reaction when reading about this proposal was ‘what a bunch of jumped-up self opinionated busy bodies, who the hell do they think they are to imagine that what they are proposing is anything other than pathetic?

    My address is in the UK

  • haohe382
  • Cre8

     That sounds like a license to shoot to kill maybe a photo has not killed but it has help the police solve many crimes. Time to get Billy Connolly or 007 Sean Connery on the job