Statement issued by the UK Home Office:
David Hanson, UK Crime Minister, seeks to reassure photographers
Policing and Crime Minister David Hanson MP said:
"I recently met with Austin Mitchell MP, members of the Parliamentary All Party Photography Group and representatives of the photographic press and the Royal Photographic Society to discuss the issue of counter terrorism powers and offences in relation to photography.
"I welcomed the opportunity to reassure all those concerned with this issue that we have no intention of Section 44 or Section 58A being used to stop ordinary people taking photos or to curtail legitimate journalistic activity.
"Guidance has been provided to all police forces advising that these powers and offences should not be used to stop innocent member of the public, tourists or responsible journalists from taking photographs.
"These powers and offences are intended to help protect the public and those on the front line of our counter terrorism operations from terrorist attack. For the 58A offence to be committed, the information is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
"I have committed to writing to Austin Mitchell MP to reinforce this message and to follow-up on the representations made to me at today's meeting.”
Reassurance is all very well, but we've been down this road before. Just a few months ago Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who is head of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, appeared to move to reassure photographers by appealing to his officers to use their anti-terrorism powers more tactfully. But reports of photographers being hassled by police officers and the more junior PCSO or Police Community Support Officers, continue to flow.
So DPNow's advice to the Right Homourable Mr. Hanson is that we don't want reassurances, we want action to stamp out the culture of intimidation that some, and maybe a small minority, of police officers, as well as PCSOs and private security guards, have adopted against obviously innocent and law-abiding photographers in recent years.
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