Home Office Criteria So Wide It Effectively Bans Photography

Via Liberty & Solidarity. The British Journal of Photography has this answer to the NUJ from the Home Office-

The Home Office has written to the National Union of Journalists, outlining cases when photography may be legally limited. BJP reports.

In a letter dated 03 December, which BJP saw, Vernon Coaker, the Minister for Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing, has written to the National Union of Journalists to inform it of measures that have taken since their meeting on 05 November.

The meeting was arranged after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith shocked photographers by appearing to condone increasing police restrictions, despite confirming there is no legal framework to prevent them shooting in public.

In the letter, the Minister has confirmed that photography can be limited in public places in special circumstances. The letter reads: ‘This may be on the grounds of national security or there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person’s own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others’.

The broad definition could allow police officers to legally prevent photographers, including press photographers, to document events such as protests or any kind of incident.

It can be used to create the scenario that any police officer can tell you to stop taking pics -of anything- when you reasonably object that will become a breach of the peace thus the guidelines justify you being stopped. This already happens a lot, it’s like a sleazy version of pre-crime, provoke a person with an instruction and unless totally obedient the response then creates the grounds to further harass or arrest them and they know most people have neither the time or money to argue it in court. It is a very ancient police tactic.

Apart from that the guidelines as a whole provide the police with such wide grounds on which to stop photography it effectively bans it on the word of any copper whether for journalist or citizen. What we need now is a set of rights for photography as leaving it in the Home Office’s hands and the on the spot judgement of police is giving us this authoritarian lockdown when perversely the government and security services have more cameras and legal provisions to spy on us than ever. As such this is just one more aspect of the rising inequality throughout our society and the corresponding increase in social control by government to keep a lid on it. Neoliberalism heading inexorably towards its authoritarian end stage. Recession, repression, regression.

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2 Responses to “Home Office Criteria So Wide It Effectively Bans Photography”

  1. libhomo Says:

    This could devastate your country’s tourism industry.

  2. RickB Says:

    True, that should be pointed out to Ms. Smith and her authoritarian chums (unless she’s got a gig with a postcard corporation which will provide licensed tourist pics…).


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