The government admits it has more work to do to convince photographers that their right to take photographs is protected unless they pose a ‘specific risk’.
But the Home Secretary’s statement has prompted criticism for lacking clarity about what may or may not be photographed.
Jacqui Smith was responding to a question in the House of Commons last week by Andrew Miller MP, a keen photographer.
Miller was seeking ‘assurance’ from the government that the photo which led to the resignation of Britain’s anti-terrorism chief, Bob Quick, would not lead to ‘further pressures’ on the rights of photographers.
Quick stepped down after he was photographed arriving in Downing Street, on 8 April, holding sensitive documents relating to an anti-terrorism operation, codenamed ‘Operation Pathway’.
Miller also raised concerns about the Austrian tourists whose pictures of buses were apparently deleted by police earlier this month, a claim officers later denied.
Smith replied: ‘I see no reason why the unfortunate events on 8 April should limit the ability of photographers to take photographs, and neither do I believe? that some of the limits result from recent legislative changes that we have made, as has been suggested.’
She added: ‘There is more work that we can do to ensure that photographers are clear that their right to take photographs is protected in all cases where it is not causing a specific risk. That is certainly a right that my hon. Friend and I would uphold.’
SpyBlog, a website that criticises ‘widespread’ government surveillance of society, hit out at the latest government statement: ‘These weasel words from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith provide no clarity or leadership about who or what may, or may not, be photographed. What is she doing to discipline or prosecute those police constables, PCSOs and private security guards etc who harass innocent photographers and tourists??