Freedom of the press to be decided by the police

That hotbed of radical dissent the British Journal of Photography reports this week on disturbing police powers to forbid photography in certain situations.  Bizarrely Home Secretary Jacqui Smith states in a letter responding to a query from the NUJ:

“First of all, may I take this opportunity to state that the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and as such there is no legal restriction on photography in public places,”

Before adding:

“Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.”

Which seems to imply what we’ve long suspected, even the Government supports the old bill making up the law as they go along.  This whole row has blown up after the NUJ wrote to her about stasi-like tactics of the FIT teams who have taken to harassing and filming journalists along with protesters, activists and football supporters.

NUJ secretary general, Jeremy Dear, wrote to Smith at the end of June, and you can read the letter and his objections here.

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2 responses to “Freedom of the press to be decided by the police

  1. That’s great. I wonder if every every other law might be changed depending on ‘the individual circumstances of each situation.’ That’s the only time a law has any corporeality: in an individual situation.

  2. “reasonable circumstances”

    Y’see, what the government thinks is reasonable and what I think is reasonable are two very different things.

    Taking photographs of riots and such, I believe is reasonable – aside from documenting an event, and the artistic implications of the photographs, I believe these are the things that need to be communicated through mass media… the government, however, will probably label this as dissent and maybe even the spreading of terrorist propaganda.

    Now, when they say ‘police’ they might as well be saying ‘government’ – since the terror lawas have sought to combine the two.

    I realise this is starting to make me sound like one of the paranoid and panicked, but I’m not, I’m a reasonable person… right?

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