Photographer guidance delayed after Home Office reshuffle

July 3, 2009

Guidance designed to ensure police officers do not misuse anti-terrorism legislation when dealing with photographers has been delayed further, due to the recent Home Office reshuffle, Amateur Photographer (AP) understands.

In March, the then counter-terrorism minister Vernon Coaker (pictured) invited AP to help draft police guidance relating to officers’ use of Section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 which came into force in February.

The law makes a photograph of a police constable a potential crime if police deem it likely to be useful to a terrorist, prompting fears that officers will use it to stop innocent photographers.

However, Coaker was recently moved from the Home Office to a new job as Schools Minister in a reshuffle by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

David Hanson MP has now taken over the role of Policing Minister.

Though a Home Office insider insisted the guidance is ‘still on the agenda’, he admitted that its publication is likely to be ‘set back’ while the new minister finds his feet in his new job.

‘It is still something we are working on. Hopefully we will get it [the guidance] out as soon as possible,’ said the Home Office source.

Coaker had met AP staff in a meeting at the Houses of Parliament set up by Austin Mitchell MP.

Last year Mitchell, a keen photographer, launched a parliamentary petition to rally support for photographers’ rights to take pictures in public places.

The Home Office plans to distribute the Section 76 guidance, in the form of a circular, to all police forces.

This is the second time the guidance has been delayed. Last month the Home Office said that a draft copy of the police circular had been postponed owing to a wider review linked to police plans to scale back use of stop-and-search powers.


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