Photographers’ terror stops spark fresh Commons petition
December 7, 2009
Fears Britain will become a state that uses CCTV more than any other nation, yet whose anti-terror laws stop photographers using their own cameras, has sparked a new petition in Parliament.
Austin Mitchell, a keen photographer who chairs the Parliamentary All-Party Photography Group is due to table the Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons this week, Amateur Photographer has learned.
An EDM is a formal motion that allows MPs to express and publicise their opinions on given matters and affords fellow politicians the opportunity to support it by adding their signatures. An EDM can even be debated in the House of Commons.
In the petition Mitchell (pictured) urges police chiefs to ‘educate’ police officers on the beat.
The EDM will state: ‘This house views with concern the number of incidents of photographer, both amateur and professional, being stopped by over-officious police constables and PCSO’s from taking photographs of St Paul’s Cathedral, Fish and Chip shops in Chatham, the House of Commons, the Millennium Bridge, Christmas lights in Burgess Hill, “strategic buildings” in Hull and other public places, all under the provisions in the anti-terrorism legislation against eliciting information “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’.
In the motion Mitchell expresses his fears that Britain ‘will become a state which trains more cameras on its people to ?harass? its citizens while they use theirs’
He ‘commends the view of Lord Carlile‘ that the police should show ‘common sense’ and urges the Home Secretary and the Association of Chief Police Officers to inform Police and PCSOs that ‘photography is a right as well as an enjoyable pastime for both tourists and a large section of our people ‘.
And he stresses a need to ‘educate constables and PCSOs about the rights of photographers in their training so that they can recognise that the joy of photography and happy snapping bring to citizens and tourists alike, should not be inhibited’.
A previous petition lodged by the MP last year – largely based on the experiences of Amateur Photographer readers – led to cross-party support for photographers’ rights from hundreds of MPs.
The news comes just days after police pledged to change the way they treat photographers who take pictures in public following a lengthy campaign, as reported by the Independent.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has instructed police forces in England and Wales not to use anti-terrorism legislation to stop people taking photographs.
Photographers have received similar assurances from the Home Office and police bodies in the past, but actions by police on the ground over recent months indicate that the message to curb restrictions on photographers is not getting through.