Saturday, December 06, 2008

UK law photography - children in public places

Gutted! This morning we went to the net sessions at the school where Ben and Joe practice and I took along my Canon G9 and shot some video footage of Joe bowling. He only bowled 1 over but from that one over he should have got 3 catches - 2 of them absolute dollies, but I can't show you the video because of the paranoia over child protection and the fear of someone suing you. Personally because I am aware of the law I've got no issue over the situation and if it wasn't for the request from the bloke at the cricket club who's in charge of these issues I'd have posted the video clip on the website here.

Now, my understanding of the law is as described in the PDF below and the law is that there is no law about taking images of children in 'Normal' situations such as cricket or on the beach etc. But other laws can be enforced in situations such as cricket practices e.g. tresspass, but tresspass in itself is a very insubstantial law. The situation that is prevalent at the minute in this country fuelled by the likes of the Daily Mail, The Sun and the media in general - attached to paedaphiles, child abuse and the internet, is that clubs, schools, councils and organisations who work with children have all adopted their own codes of practice which are not actually backed up by any real law relating to photography. Their codes of practice mean that they adopt policies of not allowing photography or video unless of course every single parent/guardian of the club/school signs a disclaimer. The fact of the matter is, all this does in essence is gives the club/school/organisation some form of redress if a case is brought against them in court relating to a case of misuse of the images. In instances where the disclaimer has not been signed as in our cricket club the approach is that they would simply ask you not to take pictures/videos and if your were to continue to do so they have the option of following up the tresspass laws and that is their only option. In fact they run very high risks of getting into real trouble if they then start to attempt to do things like man-handle you off the premises or remove the film/card from your camera if they get over zealous on the assumption that they are within the law.

Fortunately the bloke at the club simply pointed out that he wouldn't like the images to be uploaded to the internet because of child protection issues. Having looked through the files that I have created I'm gutted to say that there are other kids in the shots - especially the bowling video. Now I might argue that the quality of the video is so poor that the kids unless you were aware of the clothing that they're wearing are unrecognisable and if case was brought against me I'd be fairly certain the law would be on my side. But the fact is in this day and age with the majority of the population reading newspapers of a certain political persuasion that trade in paranoia and fear that helps to fuel the USA lead sueing culture we now have I just don't want to take the chance and I quite like the club my kids are attending and therefore will comply with the request. So sorry there is no video I can share with you because it has images of other peoples children playing cricket and enjoying themsleves. I don't know about you but in a culture where increasingly kids have no communication with the real tactile world and increasingly relate to the rest of their peers and society through electronic forms mobile phones, computers etc I'd have thought that anything that promotes physical well being and sport would be a good thing?

Have a look at this PDF. Note - The laws currently change so rapidly I may be wrong on this and if I am please let me know.