Category Archives: Law and Order

Photography Law – epetition response #1

With reference to my last post about the banning of photography, here was the Government’s response to an e-petition from 2008, asking the Prime Minister to clarify the laws surrounding photography in public places.

http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page17959

Read the Government’s response

Thank you for your e-petition asking for clarification of the law on photography in public places.

There are no legal restrictions on photography in public places. However, the law applies to photographers as it does to anybody else in a public place. So there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations, 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, to avoid a public order situation, or for the person’s own safety or welfare, or for the safety and welfare of others.

Each situation will be different and it would be an operational matter for the police officer concerned as to what action if any should be taken in respect of those taking photographs. Anybody with a concern about a specific incident should raise the matter with the Chief Constable of the relevant force.

What do YOU think?!

Photography Ban in the UK

From this week, any unauthorised photograph, even inadvertent, of a policeman could land you in jail for up to ten years.

Ten years!

And it’s not just the police. Under Section 76 of the 2008 Counter-Terrorism Act, any picture “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” is prohibited. That means almost anything: railways, public buildings, government offices, monuments, parades, communications centres. Every officious jobsworth now has a right to stop you, tear out the film or delete the images and issue charges if you cannot convince the police that you are a train spotter or innocent amateur photographer.

Photographers are reporting regular harassment, by angry members of the public as well as police. And the new law is sure to be used by those who don’t want embarrassment or publicity to prevent pictures of scuffles, demonstrations or accidents.

“It is because of terrorism”, you see.

But wouldn’t zealots ready to plant bombs take pictures with phones or concealed cameras?

And how will a ban stop them from downloading detailed satellite pictures freely available on websites?

What an irony: a nation more photographed in secret by surveillance cameras than any on Earth now wants to stop people taking unauthorised pictures.

There is a petition against this on the Government’s E-petition website. The link, however, seems to be deliberately spelt wrong: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Photogrpahy/

Send that link to everyone you know. Remeber, just because you have nothing to hide does not mean you have nothing to fear.

Response from Staffordshire Police

I received a speeding fine back in October 2006. I was doing 47 in a 40 zone, but had been confused by the signage. I payed the fine, but complained. I obviously hit a raw nerve somewhere, because I received a 3 page reply from…

STAFFORDSHIRE POLICE

Direct Dial No: 01785235034 CENTRAL TICKET OFFICE
Telex 36107 PO BOX 2117
Fax: 01785232693 STAFFORD
Email: Michael. [email protected] ST169ZR.
Our Ref: C13465538

The person dealing with this correspondence is P.c. 4817 Kim ber 14th January 2008

Dear Mr. Nicholls

I have been asked to respond to your letter dated 16th December 2007 addressed to the Deputy Corporate Director, Staffordshire Highways.

It is not our normal practice to correspond any further with a motorist who has admitted and complied with tl1e fixed penalty process but on this occasion, I felt that the issues you raised needed a response.

I shall cover the points you have raised in the order you have given.

The Highway Code and the Road Traffic Act 1988 have been designed and enacted to give guidance and direction to all motorists using public roads in the UK. There is no “Spirit” of law. A motorist makes a decision as to whether they are going to comply with the law or not. If they decide the latter, then they should expect, if caught, to receive the appropriate punishment.

There is no “Trend” by this or any other council in the UK to cheat the driving public. If anything, all are trying to assist the motorist as much as possible in complying with the rules and regulations. There are plenty of signs, advertisements on local media stations and council websites to advise and warn motorist where speed cameras and now our mobile speed detection vehicles will be sited on a daily basis. Our static cameras are painted yellow and our vans have so much reflective material on them, they cannot be missed. The only people cheating the public are themselves. If everyone complied with all the rules and regulation.s, our dep;?,lrtment vvou!d not exist.

The signage on the A34 at Tittensor is all clearly and correctly marked and displayed. All repeater signs within the 60mph speed limit sections on the A34 between Stafford and Stoke on Trent are of the same size as the one you have mentioned. The only difference between all the others and the one you have highlighted is that all the other signs have the 60mph and speed camera signs mounted on grey backgrounds. The reason why the one you have highlighted is on a yellow background is to warn motorist of a change of speed limit ahead. From the position you have taken this photograph, the 40mph speed limit signs which also incorporate the speed camera sign are clearly visible. They are also on yellow backgrounds to warn motorists. There is a smaller 40mph repeater sign after the two 40mph change of speed limit signs which is some 50yds prior to the camera. If a motorist were to miss the change of speed limit signs (one on either side of the carriageway) then there is enough time for the driver to brake safely prior to the camera even if they were still traveling at 60mph.

I am confused about your description of the Cheddleton site on the A520. I have revisited the location to confirm the situation. I believe you may have been describing the location of one of our cameras again on the A520 but just prior to Cellarhead.

The camera at the Cellarhead site is positioned some 20yds past the 30mph change of speed limit signs. This is justified for two reasons. Near enough immediately opposite the camera is a petrol station which can be busy at times and has large goods vehicle using it. The second reason is some 300yds further along the road is a bUSy crossroads junction of the A520 and A52. Although this junction is controlled by traffic lights, when some traffic wants to turn right onto the A52 from the A520, it causes a backlog of traffic. The siting of the camera is to reduce the speed of traffic prior to this junction and thus reduce the number of collisions where vehicles drive into the back of each other haVing not expected the traffic tailbacks.

The Cheddleton site has a sweeping left hand bend prior to the 30mph change of speed limit signs and these can be seen some 100yds before their position giVing drivers plenty of time to see them and reduce their speed safely. The two 30mph signs are clearly and correctly marked and displayed. The right hand one is sited on a central refuse which also helps to give the appearance that the road narrows and encourage drivers to slow down naturally. About 150yds past the 30mph sign is a roundabout at the junction with Basfordbridge Lane. The speed camera is then positioned some 50yds north of this roundabout on the A520.

All road signs in the county of Staffordshire are placed in accordance with regulations covering their size, colour and positioning. This also includes its siting to give the earliest warning to approaching motorists. The use of “Countdown” markers for changes in speed limits are used within Staffordshire and are only usually put in places where reinforcement and extra warnings are need for a specific problem sites.

Since 2001 Staffordshire has complied with guidelines set by the Department for Transport covering the siting of Safety Cameras and there is a strict criteria we have to adhere to before a new camera can be sited. We also use other means of encouraging drivers to comply with speed limits including flashing speed and warning signs.

It is the “resolve” of the Staffordshire Casualty Reduction Unit (formerly known as the Safety Camera Partnership) to help create safer roads in this county. The important word in that sentence is “help”. We cannot do this on our own. We need the help of the general public and especially drivers to reduce the number of casualties and deaths on our roads. They can do this by complying with the Highway Code, Road Traffic Act and set speed limits.

I hope that I have gone some way to answering the points you have raised in your letter. If you require any further advice or information, visit our web site. There are links on there that should be answer any further questions you have. The address is:

www.staffordshire.gov.uk/cameralifesavers.

Respectfully yours

Michael Kimber Pc 4817 Enquiry Officer Staffordshire Casualty Reduction Unit