Andy Kewell PRO 11:22pm, 25 March 2008
Austin Mitchell MP (Member of Parliament) has put forward an Early Day Motion for other MPs to sign up to, seeking clear information about photographers rights to be circulated within the UK. Please consider contacting your MP and asking them to sign it. You can find and contact your MP by entering your postcode at:

and following the links.


That this House is concerned to encourage the spread and enjoyment of photography as the most genuine and accessible people's art; deplores the apparent increase in the number of reported incidents in which the police, police community support officers (PCSOs) or wardens attempt to stop street photography and order the deletion of photographs or the confiscation of cards, cameras or film on various specious ground such as claims that some public buildings are strategic or sensitive, that children and adults can only be photographed with their written permission, that photographs of police and PCSOs are illegal, or that photographs may be used by terrorists; points out that photography in public places and streets is not only enjoyable but perfectly legal; regrets all such efforts to stop, discourage or inhibit amateur photographers taking pictures in public places, many of which are in any case festooned with closed circuit television cameras; and urges the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers to agree on a photography code for the information of officers on the ground, setting out the public's right to photograph public places thus allowing photographers to enjoy their hobby without officious interference or unjustified suspicion.

Seems like a no-brainer to me, but just giving this information for those who might want to contact their MP and seek their support.
Andy Kewell PRO 10 years ago
This is now being discussed on the News. Please contact your local MP and ask then to sign the Early Dat Motion. For Southend the MP is James Duddridge.
Harry® Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Harry® (member) 10 years ago
I got into controversy by stating my views to this petition in another group, but I am not in favour of legislation covering photographers rights.
The reason is:-

At the moment and without any legislation being necessary, you can take photographs of anything and anyone which or who is visible from or in a public place, this is the common law, just a matter of our heritage, it is a right we have inherited along with lots of other rights, the right to free passage in public places for instance.

There are of course going to be occasions when the taking of photographs could be construed as behaviour which could lead to a breach of the peace, in which case you could end up being arrested, not for taking photos in itself but for conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.

There are boundaries between what is acceptable and what might well lead to raised feelings. (I expect most of the photographers on Flickr can imagine when photography is not acceptable!)
At the moment it is quite clear, take as many pictures of who and what you like so long as it does not arouse anger, if it causes anger then you should not do it.

If they start legislating, I am convinced we will end up losing our very broad common law rights!!

The petition itself could be worded differently, and is wrong in one very important aspect where it says it is specious to claim " that photographs may be used by terrorists;" Well of course it is not specious, we have to accept they do take photographs of potential targets, and in fact convictions in more than one recent terrorist trial relied in part on photographs found in their possession.

Maybe we should be petitioning to educate the Police CPSO's etc about our existing rights instead!

Takumar, nothing personal you understand, I applaud your efforts, I just fear the worst once the lawyers get their teeth into it!!
Andy Kewell PRO Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Andy Kewell (member) 10 years ago
It is not about legislation for photographer's rights. It is about making the police and other security agencies aware that photography in public is not illegal.

The point the EDM makes is that terrorists would not be walking about with a huge medium format camera or slr openly photographing. They would use phone cameras or Google Earth.

This ridiculous paranoia and hysteria surrounding terrorism is giving the government and the police carte blanche to erode our freedoms.

It has to stop somewhere. If this EDM is not supported then it won't be long until the only people permitted to photograph in public will be the government, police and other security agencies. Ken Livingstone a couple of years ago put up signs in London's parks saying Beware Of Photographers (he had to remove them after protests from photographers groups). That is ridiculously paranoid and is only the thin end of the wedge.

If a photographer uses their head, there can be no chance of causing public disorder. Common sense says don't go photographing in a kids playground (a sad indictment of our paranoid world, the future photographic record will have huge holes in it where the everyday lives of kids is missing), if you wish to photograph people, ask them first, don't act suspiciously, be open about what you are doing. If challenged explain what you are doing, remain polite, carry examples of your work with you to show people so they can see what you do.

It really is all common sense.

But when people are being wrongfully arrested, having cameras, film, memory cards confiscated, then something has to be done. Not one of those arrested has ever been taken to court, every one has received apologies from the police forces concerned.
I contacted James Duddridge about this a couple of weeks ago and asking him to read and support Austin Mitchell's motion.

I got a reply back saying that he has heard nothing about this and doesn't believe there is any problem and certainly wouldn't want to question in any way the fantastic work done by our brave boys in blue.

Perhaps if a few more people contact him, then he will give it a bit more thought.
Andy Kewell PRO Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Andy Kewell (member) 10 years ago
I contacted James Duddridge too. I got a form letter in reply, as have many other photographers who contacted their MPs. We all got the same letter, and they all came from conservative MPs. So it would appear that the conservatives are taking their orders from central office on this issue. You are right, if more people contacted him he might think for himself, rather than blindly spouting the party line.

Here is a thread about this on APUG:

and another on the RangeFinder Forum:

Here is an AP article which could become more common if the police are not educated about the right to photograph unmolested in public:
johngretton71 10 years ago
The Southend West MP David Amess has signed this.
johngretton71 10 years ago
The best way of countering this is to go out with a clear conscience and of course a camera and keep shooting people. If an individual member of the public objects to having their photo taken, explain what you are doing, this has happened to me, sometimes the subject is content, sometimes not. There has only been one occassion when some one has continued to object to me shooting them, so I deleted the image.
If a police officer arrests you then make an official complaint.
Stuart K. Seels Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Stuart K. Seels (member) 10 years ago
I'll shoot what I want, where I want and when I want. Nobody is telling me what to do with photography regardless of how important they THINK they are!
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