Beach wardens should not approach photographers unless their activities pose a public safety risk, or are likely to seriously offend, obstruct or disrupt other beach users, council officials have conceded.

Hattie Miles

Picture credit: Hattie Miles/Daily Echo Bournemouth

Beach wardens should not approach photographers unless their activities pose a public safety risk, or are likely to seriously offend, obstruct or disrupt other beach users, council officials have conceded.

The apparent climbdown comes a fortnight after Hattie Miles, a photographer for the Bournemouth Echo, was told by a beach security guard that she needed a ‘licence’ before taking pictures from the promenade of Branksome Chine beach in Dorset.

It later emerged that photographers were falling victim to council red tape primarily targeted at large-scale film crews, though officials denied they were required to obtain a licence.

In what appears to be a significant softening of its approach towards photographers following a public outcry, Clive Smith, head of Leisure Services at Poole Council told Amateur Photographer (AP): ?The code of practice is intended to support and manage activities on beaches in Poole but we understand it caused concern among some photographers.?

Smith added: ?We would like to reassure people that the council has no desire to restrict or prevent photography on Poole?s beaches.

?We have reaffirmed the guidance given to beach wardens and they have been advised not to approach photographers and film-makers unless their activities present a risk to public safety or are likely to cause serious offence, disruption or obstruction to other beach users.?

Smith said that as a ?professional courtesy? he hopes companies wanting to use the beach for commercial purposes will inform staff of their plans beforehand.

?By doing so, we can properly support their work and ensure there isn?t any necessary disruption to other beach users.?

Photographers blasted council’s stance

The news came as professional photographers widely condemned the council?s stance and urged it to recognise photographers’ rights to take pictures in a ?public space?.

Jess Hurd, chair of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) London Photographers Branch told AP: ?This is yet another ridiculous example of infringement on civil liberties and photographers? rights that enrages people up and down the country.

?Public beaches are there for everyone to enjoy and should not be subject to these arbitrary restrictions on photography.

?Given that Hattie Miles is a member of the press, Bournemouth Echo photographer and member of the NUJ, Poole Council is in a position of restricting press freedom which it is legally not entitled to do.’

Hurd added: ?We cannot allow these restrictions to erode our ability to document our visual history.?

The NUJ?s national freelance organiser John Toner, called on the council to drop its ?ridiculous position? and come up with a ?sensible policy?.

He said: ?The suggestion that a licence is required to take photographs on a beach takes suspicion of photographers to new heights of absurdity. On the one hand, we are told that the council does not want to prevent photographers doing their work, yet on the other they appear to be doing everything possible to hinder them.?

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