A council-run railway museum has banned visitors from taking any photographs or video footage of children, on grounds of 'child protection'.


A photo of the sign was posted on Railway Eye, a railway blogging website (see above)

‘Because of Child Protection legislation, it is not permitted to take ANY photographs or videos of any children in the Museum. Thank you for your understanding,’ reads a sign at Swindon’s Museum of the Great Western Railway, known as STEAM.

The decision was blasted as ‘pointless’ by one ‘hacked off photographer’ who posted a photo of the signage on Railway Eye, a railway blogging website (see above).

The incensed blogger added: ‘They appear hopelessly confused with the Data Protection Act and even then it has no relevance.

‘Presumably, some petty council jobs-worth with too much time on their hands dreamt this one up?’

The museum is billed as one of Wiltshire’s most popular tourist attractions.

Under Chapter 37 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 it is an offence to take an ‘indecent’ photograph of a child.

And non-commercial pictures of children in a scene, taken without permission, do not breach UK privacy rules.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO), which acts as the UK’s privacy watchdog, told Amateur Photographer (AP): ‘Section 36 of the Data Protection Act provides an exemption from the Data Protection Act for information that will only be used for domestic purposes.’

The ICO spokesman added: ‘If a normal member of the public takes a picture in a museum and other people are in the shot, then the domestic purpose exemption would normally apply.

‘However, if the photo was to be used in a professional capacity, i.e. a professional photographer for an upcoming piece of work, then asking for the permission of those that are in the picture should be enough to ensure compliance.

‘There is no data protection reason for banning all photography within a museum; however, a common sense approach should be adopted.’

Among those voicing concern over the museum’s sign is Chris Milner, deputy editor of The Railway Magazine.

‘Will it lead to a proliferation of such signs around the country?’ he asks.

A spokesperson for the Grade II listed railway building told AP: ‘As part of Swindon Borough Council, STEAM is strongly committed to protecting and promoting the welfare of children.

‘STEAM welcomes 20,000 school visitors each year and follows Swindon Borough Council’s Code of Practice on Photographing Children within Leisure Facilities.

‘The Museum also has its own Safeguarding Policy. We currently do not allow photography or filming of school children on the museum premises by the general visitor.’

Asked if parents are banned from photographing their own children, the spokesperson added: ‘We do, however, encourage visitors to photograph their friends and family within the STEAM Collection and displays, while asking them to respect the privacy of others.’

Museum bosses have pledged to amend the sign’s wording after being contacted by AP.