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Warning over taking photographs in public

Written by Michael Coyle on 13 January 2009

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Watch out. No more photographs in public places.

Congratulations to Labour MP Austin Mitchell who has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons. The EDM condemns police action against lawful photography in public areas. It follows an extraordinary story concerning the arrest and caution given to Steve Carroll in Hull City Centre. Humberside police issued a statement stating that anyone who appears to be taking photographs in a covert manner should expect to be stopped and quizzed. They seized films from the photographer.

Mitchell, is the MP for Great Grimsby, and is a keen photographer.

The EDM states:

That this House is concerned to encourage the spread and enjoyment of photography as the most genuine and accessible art; deplores the apparent increase in the number of reported incidents in which the police, police community support officers (PCSOs) or wardens attempt to stop street photography and order the deletion of photographs or the confiscation of cards, cameras or film on various specious ground such as claims that some public buildings are strategic or sensitive, that children and adults can only be photographed with their written permission, that photographs of police and PCSOs are illegal, or that photographs may be used by terrorists; points out that photography in public places and streets is not only enjoyable but perfectly legal; regrets all such efforts to stop, discourage or inhibit amateur photographers taking pictures in public places, many of which are in any case festooned with closed circuit television cameras; and urges the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers to agree on a photography code for the information of officers on the ground, setting out the public right to photograph public places thus allowing photographers to enjoy their hobby without officious interference or unjustified suspicion.

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