Political Demonstrations (Police Photographs)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme 12:00 am, 9th April 1959

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent, in the consultations between the Metropolitan Police authorities and other police authorities about the march from Aldermaston to Trafalgar Square on 27th–30th March, provision was made for the taking of film records of the demonstration; what regulations of his permit the taking of such records of political demonstrations; and if, in view of the undesirability of employing police officers in this way, he will issue instructions to stop the practice and have such records destroyed.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that the Metropolitan Police made no arrangements for the taking of photographs in connection with the march. I have made no regulations governing the use of photography for police purposes, which in any area is the responsibility of the chief officer of police concerned.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Is not the Home Secretary aware that this practice seems to have developed in some parts of the country, and that it certainly took place on the dates that I have mentioned? Does not he agree that in this country we do not want the police to take photographs of political demonstrations because the Government do not approve of them, or want police officers to waste their working time taking photographs for social purposes? Will he, therefore, issue some regulations to put a stop to this practice?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I went into this question with the Buckinghamshire Police, and it appears that a film was taken for the purpose of showing later in the force's recreational club — [Laughter.] I can only give the facts as given to me by the Buckinghamshire Police. The film consisted mainly of photographs of policemen. No part of the cost of making this film will fall upon police funds, and, although there is nothing sinister in this event, if the hon. Member would like me to do so. I will look into the whole question.