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Photography Restrictions (Public Places)

Volume 508: debated on Monday 22 March 2010

16. Whether he has issued guidance to police forces on restrictions on members of the public taking photographs in public places. (322956)

The National Policing Improvement Agency and I have issued guidance and circulars to the police that make it clear that counter-terrorism powers should not be used to stop innocent people taking photographs. I have also written to all chief constables who have section 44 authorisations to reiterate the point.

I thank the Minister for that reply, but I have to tell him that the system is not working. Only last week, a journalist from Meridian Television, Phil Hornby, was threatened with arrest and confiscation and deletion of his tape merely for filming an exterior shot of Worthing station. Other individuals have been stopped for taking sunset photographs of St. Paul’s and photographs of the Christmas lights in Brighton. Clearly, the guidance that the Minister has issued does not seem to be getting through. What further steps will he take to ensure that we do not slide towards east Germany in this country?

I think that the guidance is helpful. However, last week I met my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) and a delegation of a range of individuals involved in photography issues. We agreed with Craig Mackey, the chief constable of Cumbria, who deals with these matters on behalf of chief police officers, that we would consider police training issues. I make this offer to the hon. Gentleman: if there are individual cases where there are concerns, we will look at them to see whether the guidance has been followed. If he wishes to send me further details, I will certainly look into them with Craig Mackey.