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You can't ban parents from taking pictures, schools told


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You can't ban parents from taking pictures, schools told


By James Slack

Last updated at 8:32 AM on 23rd June 2009





Parents who want to take photos of their children in school plays or at sports days can once again snap happily away.

The privacy watchdog says authorities that have banned parents taking shots for the family album are wrongly interpreting the rules.

Relatives wanting to take pictures at nativity plays, sports days or other public events are often told that doing so would breach the Data Protection Act.


article-0-00734DF200000578-136_468x332.jpg Snap happy: Parents can take photos of school sports day



But the Office of the Information Commissioner has said this interpretation of the law is simply wrong.

It decreed that any picture taken for the family photograph album would normally be acceptable.

This guidance can now be used by parents and grandparents to challenge 'barmy' rulings relating to the upcoming school sports day season.

Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith said: 'We recognise that parents want to capture significant moments on camera.

'We want to reassure them and other family members that whatever they might be told, data protection does not prevent them taking photographs of their children and friends at school events.

'Photographs taken for the family photo album are exempt from the Act and citing the Data Protection Act to stop people taking photos or filming their children at school is wrong.'

The guidance, sent to education authorities across the country, says: 'Fear of breaching the provisions of the Act should not be wrongly used to stop people taking photographs or videos which provide many with much pleasure.

'Where the Act does apply, a common sense approach suggests that if the photographer asks for permission to take a photograph, this will usually be enough to ensure compliance.'

Specific examples of what is allowed includes a parent taking 'a photograph of their child and some friends taking part in the school sports day to be put in the family photo album'.

The video recording of school nativity plays is also listed as being acceptable.

The guidance says that, in some cases, official school photographs or visits by newspaper photographers may be covered by data protection laws.

But provided that parents and children are informed about what is happening, there should be no problem in these cases. Earlier this month, the Mail reported how parents at Mrs Ethelston's Church of England Primary School were upset after being told they could not take pictures of their own children at sports day.

The village school in Uplyme, Devon, cited changes to child protection legislation for the ban on cameras.

Headmistress Andrea Rice said 'vulnerable pupils' needed to be protected.

There has been a string of similar cases in which parents were stopped from taking pictures at school events.

Margaret Morrissey, of pressure group Parents Outloud, said: 'I am really pleased that common sense has broken out. We have to be sensible about this and allow families to build up histories of their children and stop spoiling life for those parents who want to be involved.'

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