Police pledge to act on photography fears
March 20, 2008
Police have vowed to act on concerns expressed by photographers who fear officers will unfairly target them when taking pictures in public following recent anti-terrorism publicity.
The Metropolitan Police?s Directorate of Professional Standards has promised to raise photographers? concerns with all officers on the ground within the force.
The Met?s pledge came in response to a written complaint from photography enthusiast Andy Barton about the latest anti-terror adverts which are designed to alert members of the public to people with cameras behaving suspiciously.
The police launched the nationwide campaign in newspapers, on the internet and on radio last month.
Barton, a keen photographer from Cheshire who visits London regularly, is worried that everyone who takes photos in public will become terror suspects.
In an official emailed reply to Barton, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lawrence said he will ?encourage officers at ground level to adopt a more sensible approach when considering whether to stop photographers and other Londoners who are in the vicinity of transport networks?.
Lawrence also promised that he would pass on Barton?s complaint to the Counter Terrorism Command unit, which is in charge of the current publicity project.
He added: ?We have to balance a genuine terrorist threat, which concentrates on attacking transport networks, but at the same time take account of the human rights of individuals who want to take photographs or enjoy an innocuous hobby.?
The DCI?s email has since been verified to us by Scotland Yard following the force?s initial reluctance for us to publish the contents.
The Met?s press office conceded that Lawrence’s comments had been made in his professional capacity to a member of the public.
The news follows an apparent rise in the number of photographers complaining that they have been unfairly stopped prior to the latest police campaign.
A House of Commons petition on the matter was launched last week by Labour MP Austin Mitchell.
The Early Day Motion has so far gained support from 62 fellow MPs.
? See next week?s issue of Amateur Photographer for a Special Report on the issues facing photographers in today?s anti-terror climate. The magazine goes on sale on Tuesday 25 March and is available to subscribers before this date
Picture (above): Police launched a new anti-terror campaign last month