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Sunday, 22 March 2009


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Mike, thank you for posting this; it's unlikely that I would have learned of it otherwise. I'm now at number 307 on the list.

Or they could just read the Prime Minister's response to the last on line petition at:


This is very restricting.

Almost all members of the Royal family are serving miltary personnel so paparazzi are out of a job (Hooray!).

You cannot take pictures of Buckingham Palace because there are always military personnel in attendance (sorry tourists).

You cannot take pictures at footbal matches unless you are very careful not to get any of the attending police in the frame.


Sign it folks - you know you need to!

Any UK readers with experience of the No.10 petitions site will probably think it a futile exercise, I'm afraid.

(Though I will nonetheless add my name to the list.)

The Government response neatly side steps the issue. What it should say is
"There are no legal restrictions on photography in public places unless the police decide otherwise and/or there is no-one in uniform in that public place"

This law has serious implications, as one example, it could make it impossible to record instances of a police officer exceeding their authority.

Whereas in the past I have often been asked to produce identification when shooting at airports, there has been no question of hindering me because I was in a public place and breaking no law. Now my right to continue is entirely at the discretion of a police officer who may or may not be sympathetic to photographers, have had a bad day etc.

I doubt the petition will make a difference, however people need to realise that bit by bit the UK is sleep-walking towards a police state.

I also fear it is futile, given the anodyne response to the last e-petition on photography in public places. Nevertheless, if we KEEP ON making a noise even our paranoid bureaucrats will have to listen - eventually. The current UK radio ads extolling the virtues of ringing up a hotline to report people looking at CCTV cameras in a suspicious manner (or, no doubt, "looking foreign in a public place") just hike up people's fears.

It's not my fight, specifically, as I'm American, but I agree with HughofBardfield. We all can just do what we can do, but we have to do that, if that's clear enough. It's true that making yourself aware and signing a petition might not do any immediate good, but we can't let that stop us. Have to keep up what little pressure we can, or we deserve what we get.


I'm glad to live in Switzerland where those kind of things still can be decided by the people and I couldn't imagine a restriction to that extent. hopefully the people of UK and the USA are up to the task struggling against those restrictions as it is an inconvenient fact that countries all over the world tend to adapt the behavior of the "big ones".

even though it doesn't look like any of those voices are going to be heard by the ruling class, I pray for the "national security" issue regarding terrorism and its following law enforcements is going to be abandoned soon.

as soon as fear vanishes reason will come back to people's mind and we can live again in a normal state.

as mentioned above, keep on making noise, not to wake up the government but the deaf people.

my apologies for the rather pathetic post ;)

Canon, Nikon, and Sony are to blame. They could force the governments hand by not doing business with the UK. They could also conduct a media campaign to educate people as to their lost rights.

"You don't want us taking pictures?"

"Fine, no cameras."

At this point a petition will do no good, police states don't respond to petitions. Better to try and introduce legislation that makes taking pictures of any kind illegal, something like that could galvanize the masses.

Do it soon though because the court system probably won't be around too much longer.

The text on the petition says this: "making it illegal to take a photograph of a police office, military personnel or member of the intelligence services - or a photograph which may be of use for terrorism".

This is actually wrong. instead of saying "or a photograph which may be of use for terrorism" it should say "which may be of use...."

There is a lot of paranoa being written about this. This law does not make it illegal to take pictures of police officers, military etc. unless it can be proven to be likely to be used as part of an act of terrorism. A court judgement would be needed to decide this.

There will be, as there have already been, cases of over-zealous police officers using this as an excuse to stop people photographing. These cases have all ended up with an apology being issued and I'm sure that will happen in the future as well.

Please keep photographing whatever you like in our country.

I did sign it anyway though!

I would be the first to agree that the petition will not change anything, but I think it is important nonetheless to add one's small voice.

It may be worth noting, for those who are unfamiliar with the so-called Mother of Parliaments, that "free vote", as applied to the antics of our so-called elected representatives, is not an oxymoron. Votes on significant issues are whipped, which is to say our "representatives" are instructed by the party which way to vote. I believe the sanction is withdrawal of the member's "right" to cast his or her (unfree) vote.

Long live the (British) democratic process :)


I've met US citizens who have been very impressed by our former prime minister Blair while somewhat less impressed by their former Head of State. We are now stuck, in UK, with the legacy of Blair which isn't exactly government of the people by the people. I'd ask all such to have a good think about the implications. We used to pride ourselves on not needing a written constitution and are now finding out why your Founding Fathers thought one to be necessary.

It says "...illegal to take a photograph of a police office...", but from the context, shouldn't it say police officer?

I'm surprised that the PM's Office actually allows citizens to create/sign petitions. Wonder if any petition ever got heard? Maybe they'll just put the potential terrorists, I mean, petitioners, on a watch list. Sorry, can't help being skeptical.

Tour operators inside and outside the UK should make their voices heard too. If the government turns a deaf ear to their own citizens, maybe a drop in tourism will make it listen.

Yes, given the government's response to previous e-petitions very likely this one will achieve nothing. BUT, if we do nothing, we can be sure nothing will change: if we do something, something might change. So, we have to sign it.

I am French and I thought those crazy laws were only in France, it will be good a photographers communality against this stupidities

Chris Bertram is right, to the extent that this is no Rubicon. However, it is yet another potential incremental step in the erosion of the rights of the citizen.

The Government (or, properly, the Civil Servants that REALLY run things) are permitting shoddily drafted kneejerk legislation that can be used by an under-trained Police force (and their quasi-Police accolytes, the "Community Support Officers") to disrupt and harass the innocent.

An unwritten constitution has its advantages, but its fundamental disadvantage is that there is no formal definition of the rights of the citizen. Some people in the Uk have been campaigning for some years for this to change, so far with little success thanks to general public apathy and a weird belief that "British Must Be Best" fostered by the xenophobic media.

(Rant over!)

there is no formal definition of the rights of the citizen

But Hugh, that isn't true any more is it? Because the European Convention on Human Rights has been incorporated into British law.

There is a similar petition in France, called for by Union des Photographes Créateurs, FreeLens, and Saif. I'm not French, but heard about this on a forum. For those interested, the petition can be found at: http://petitions.upc.fr/appel.php.

Gee Mike: Just curious to know if my comment on this thread was lost or "disallowed". Thanks!

Dave Kee

"Just curious to know if my comment on this thread was lost or 'disallowed.' "

I don't know. I don't think I disallowed any, but I've been swamped by comments recently.


As a followup on this, the matter was recently debated in Parliament ( http://tinyurl.com/dn26to ). Here's a key passage, which indicates perhaps the dawning of a new awareness for at least one Member:

We agreed to emergency legislation being pushed through the House because of the threat of terrorism and because we know that such legislation is important. However, when the legislation was being considered, we raised concerns and were told, No, it won't be used in that way. This is just for use in extremis. We then find that somebody has been stopped reading out the names of the war dead
in front of the cenotaph in Whitehall, and that somebody has been cautioned under terrorism legislation for taking a photograph of a police car on double yellow lines. I am afraid that that will make people think that the laws we pass have not been scrutinised properly and that those laws might even be brought into disrepute.

The government's response is that no, these powers are not supposed to be interpreted so widely (although, of course, they can be) and appropriate guidance will be issued to the police.

From a little further down in this debate (that took place on the morning of 1st April 2009;) The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Shahid Malik) says:
"I want to be clear about this: the offence does not capture an innocent tourist taking a photograph of a police officer, or a journalist photographing police officers as part of his or her job. It does not criminalise the normal taking of photographs of the police. Police officers have the discretion to ask people not to take photographs for public safety or security reasons, but the taking of photographs in a public place is not subject to any rule or statute. There are no legal restrictions on photography in a public place, and there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place."

I have given a little more information in my blog at:http://impactgroup.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/counter-terrorist-powers/

There is a lot of hysteria surrounding photography in public recently and unfortunately the police and PCSOs are not being given enough guidance to prevent them from fuelling the problems.


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