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What do you mean I can’t take pictures of baby Jesus?
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What do you mean I can’t take pictures of baby Jesus?

What do I mean by this?

If, like me you have children, they and their schools will be gearing up for their Christmas production.  What we have witnessed over the last few years is many schools quoting data protection as the reason for not letting parents take pictures at these events – this is WRONG!

blogphoto3Pictures taken for personal use are exempt from the Data Protection Act, in other words the law does not apply as long as they are for your own personal use.  If a school is using this as the basis for not allowing parents to take pictures, they are relying on the wrong law and will need to review their policy in this regard.


Quite often we see the schools themselves taking pictures or have outside companies capturing the event on video.  If they are stating Data Protection as the reason, again they are wrong!  Now it maybe they have put a ‘belt and braces’ approach in place under the safeguarding children rules, however there is opportunity to be flexible in this regard.

I for one feel cheated at not being able to take pictures and have had many a ‘discussion’ with the teachers regarding this very issue!

I understand the need for child protection, and would strongly recommend having processes and policies in place line with safeguarding children.  To be clear, there is no direct threat to a child by another parent having taken a photo of their own child and that other child being in the photo.

There are a number of statutory guidance and provisions relating to child safeguarding that are available and applicable to institutions like schools. which the schools would be expected to take into account. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The Education Act (2002) Section 175
  • The Children Act 2004
  • Working Together to Safeguard children 2006
  • The Children Act 1989
  • Section 115(4) of the Police Act 1997
  • Every Child Matters
  • The Sexual Offences Act
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010)

As mentioned above and in line with safeguarding rules, it would be advisable for the school to have an appropriate ‘photography policy’ and to consider giving the parents a set of ‘conditions’ they have to abide by, should they wish to take photos.  This may include making parents aware that photograph are being allowed at events, provisions for those parents who do not wish to have their child included in any photographs to be removed and perhaps have a photo opportunity at the end of the event, that any photographs taken are only for personal use and that should they be shared that nothing more than the first name of any other child in the photo be disclosed.

Although, they will need to understand that actually they will have no control over the actions the parents may take with the pictures.  Should any action be taken that means it is no longer classed as ‘personal use’ its the person who took the pictures who is responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act and NOT the school.  The Act includes provisions for prosecution should a person act outside of the law in this regard.

Is the threat to children any greater than it was 10 years ago – NO!  The world has gone mad and protection crazy.

Safeguarding children is primarily about reducing the risk to children and at the same time promoting their welfare.  Compliance with regards to taking photographs of children is just one small element of this.  It usually means that there just needs to be a clear policy and guidance – awareness is the key!  By informing parents of what the school expects everyone is happy – it’s a win win!

If you are a school and need further help or advice in setting a policy and guidance for parents, or if you are a parent looking to clarify these issues, then feel free to contact me and lets help more people preserve their memories and stay on the right side of the right laws!

Yours in best practice!



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