More than 2,200 Britons have backed a Downing Street petition that lobbies against ‘restrictions’ on photographers? rights to take pictures in public, less than a week since it was launched.
The ?e-petition? was set up on the No.10 website five days ago by Hampshire-based photographer Simon Taylor who said: ?I and many other photographers like me are getting increasingly frustrated at the restrictions imposed upon us, suspicion we suffer and the incorrect assumptions that are made.?
He added: ?The whole situation has been recently exacerbated for me by the experience of two members of my local camera club.?
The two enthusiasts told him they were confronted by ?three heavies?, a child protection official – and later quizzed by a police officer – after taking pictures of young rugby players during a match in a local park. During the incident a member of the rugby club apparently asked them to delete their pictures which they agreed to do. They were told they should not take such photographs at an ?organised event? without permission.
Taylor declined to reveal the name of the photographers – or the club ? in order to protect their identities.
In an email to the camera club?s chairman the photographers wrote: ?Is this world going completely mad? I know they have to protect their children but all they had to do was ask us politely to stop. We did not argue with them when approached and said we would leave but, unfortunately, we were presumed guilty of god knows what before we even had a chance to explain. What happened to innocent until proven guilty??
However, Taylor – who works as an event, wedding and commercial photographer based in Farnborough ? opposes any suggestion from clubs that enthusiasts should carry with them an ?ID card? that outlines their rights to capture non-commercial images, such as those for competitions, for example.
He asserts that such a card would confine them to taking pictures only for non-commercial purposes, restricting them ?unnecessarily without any reason to do so?. He said it would be better to carry a card which ?states the law?.
Outlining his petition on the No.10 website Taylor states. ?These moves have developed from paranoia and only promote suspicion towards genuine people following their hobby or profession.?
He adds: ?It is a fundamental right of a UK citizen to use a camera in a public place, indeed there is no right to privacy when in a public place.?
The petition has confused at least one photographer, however. One AP reader contacted us, fearing that the government was planning to announce new restrictions on photography in public.
To clear up any possible confusion over government policy on ID cards, a spokesman for the Home Office told us that he was not aware of government plans requiring photographers to carry an ID card before taking pictures in a public place.
The petition can be found at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Photography/
For more details of the reasons behind Simon’s petition visit his website at www.phooto.co.uk/rights.shtml.