The Home Office claims to have listened to concerns expressed by Amateur Photographer (AP) readers when it drew up its newly published police guidance on photography in public.
The government issued the circular without notifying the magazine, contrary to the Home Office’s repeated assurances that it would issue a draft version to AP ahead of final publication.
A spokesman today apologised for the apparent mix-up, adding that the draft had been issued to the National Union of Journalists.
Commenting on the circular, which contains no specific reference to photographic enthusiasts, a Home Office spokesman said. ‘The Home Office listened to all concerns and requests for clarification?’
‘We have no intention of Section 44 or Section 58a being used to criminalise ordinary people taking photos or legitimate journalistic activity.
‘We have issued guidance to all police forces advising them that these offences should not be used to capture an innocent member of the public, tourist or responsible journalist taking a photograph of a police officer.
‘These offences are intended to help protect those in the front line of our counter terrorism operations from terrorist attack. For the offence to be committed, the information would have to raise a reasonable suspicion that it was intended to be used to provide practical assistance to terrorists.’
In March, AP hand delivered a file to the Home Office, detailing the experiences of photographers being stopped in public places, following a specific request by the then counter-terrorism minister Vernon Coaker.