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No pictures 'ere mate: London Authority bans photographers

24 February 2001 - EPUK

Photographers working in London’s Trafalgar Square are now routinely approached by GLA ‘Heritage Wardens’ demanding to see their photography permits, without which they are told to stop taking pictures, reports EPUK member Andrew Wiard

The newly formed Greater London Authority (GLA) took over the running of Trafalgar and Parliament Squares from the Department of Heritage on October 1st 2000. They immediately resurrected an anachronistic power to ban photography, introduced essentially to deal with commercial hawkers, and applied it to everyone with a camera except the tourists.

This power is enforced by Heritage Wardens, supplied to the GLA by a private company, they refer offenders to the ‘Square Co-ordinator’ who has the power to grant or withhold photography permits.

Not waving, not drowning. Photo © Andrew Wiard / reportphotos.com

The permits may be given for a price, or free of charge, and for varying lengths of time.As one who has taken photographs in the Square professionally without a permit since 1974, I went down to have a look for myself. I saw and photographed a TV crew being approached by a Heritage Warden for their permits (see picture) and was immediately told to stop taking pictures: and then I too was asked if I held a permit. I don’t – I hold the national press card. This is recognised by police forces throughout the United Kingdom, and allows me access to Downing Street, but is not apparently recognised by the GLA & its agents in Trafalgar Square.

I complained to the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) who immediately referred this problem to the ‘gatekeepers’ of the national press card scheme. The gatekeepers are the representatives of the different press & broadcasting organisations, including the NUJ, which control access to the press card, and maintain its authority.

The gatekeepers are now pressing for a resolution to this problem in the interests of national press card holders.

Story and picture © Andrew Wiard/reportphotos.com

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