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April 2019
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Ambulance service harassing photographers

It’s been just two months since the country’s police officers were told by their bosses to stop harassing press photographers.

Now we have AMBULANCE crews trying it instead.

Editor Stuart Littleford was out filming with cameraman Paul Bridgeman in Manchester city centre on Saturday night and took shots of a man being put into an ambulance.

Stuart, editor of the Government and Public Sector Journal, explains: ‘The paramedics sent the police over to question us and stop us filming claiming it was against the Data Protection act to film a patient!’

Earlier this year, Stuart made an official complaint to Greater Manchester Police after allegedly being assaulted by an officer while he was covering a an incident where a building collapsed.

‘So we are now getting it from the ambulance service not just the police!’ he says.

In fact the ambulance service were completely wrong when they challenged Stuart on Saturday.

I’d love to know quite why they thought filming someone in a public place could breach the DPA!

It’s another example where everybody from teachers to hospital staff wave the DPA like a magic wand any time they see a journalist or a photographer. It’s a piece of legislation that could aptly be re-named the Jobsworth Act.

It was established in 2009 that taking a photo of someone in the street was lawful.

At the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Laws said: -Individuals do not have the right to prevent another person politely taking their photograph in public.

“The snapping of the shutter of itself breaches no rights.

Mr Laws explained that taking a photo could only be an invasion of privacy if it involved hot pursuit, face-to-face confrontation, pushing, shoving, bright lights or barging into someone’s home.

In Saturday’s incident, Stuart says he was filming unobtrusively from the other side of the street.

Perhaps the ambulance crew misunderstood a Press Complaints Commission ruling in 2008, when a local paper was censured for publishing a photo of someone receiving medical treatment after an accident.

The PCC said then: ‘There is a clear need for newspapers to exercise caution when publishing images that relate to a person’s health and medical treatment, even if they are taken in public places.’ Note – PUBLISHING images, not taking them.

The ambulance crew in question would do better to concentrate on treating the sick and injured, rather than waste time mis-applying the finer points of the law?

A statement from North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: -North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust aims to ensure that its staff have an understanding of how the media works. Many of the Trust’s operational staff work with film crews and journalists across the North West on specific projects and during incidents. Where possible, staff are asked to be tolerant of media filming in the public domain if there is no perceived detrimental effect to patient care. –

Sounds like they are doing us a favour by letting us film, said Stuart.

This article is by Cleland Thom and appears on his popular blog

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