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Photography and video recording

Parents and carers understandably love to record those precious moments of their child’s life either through taking a photograph or using a camcorder. Similarly, if you’re running a toddler group, you may want to take photographs for publicity purposes or for your own records.

Since the introduction of the Data Protection Act (DPA) in 1998, you need to be careful if you want to take photographs or film footage of people. This does not mean that photographs should not be taken or that filming is prohibited, but there are certain protocols that must be followed to comply with data protection legislation as well as safeguard children.

So what about data protection considerations?

In 2005 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) dispelled the myth that the law prevents taking photographs in situations such as toddler groups. Photographs taken purely for personal use are exempt from the Data Protection Act.

Where the DPA does apply, for example, when images are used for publicity on a website or in the media, the ICO says that “If the photographer obtains permission from the parent or individual to take a photograph, this will usually be enough to ensure compliance.”

It is perfectly acceptable to ask parents to let you know if they do NOT want their child photographed or filmed. Write to the parents or guardians to explain why the image(s) or film is being taken, what it will be used for and who might want to look at the pictures, and leave the onus on them to contact you if they have any objections. You could include this question on your group’s registration form.

So are there any safeguarding concerns in taking photographs?

CCPAS, an independent Christian child care charity, advises:

  • Have a simple two-way etiquette about photography and seeking permission – e.g. parents can… toddler group can… – but be clear about what can be photographed and when, as well as the purpose and the destination of the photographic image. For example, parents may take photographs of their own child for home use, whilst the toddler group may take photographs for publicity purposes which will appear on the church website.
  • Gaining permission to take photographs is not only a matter of good manners but may also ensure the safety of children. For example, a woman fleeing domestic violence may not want her current location advertised inadvertently through a photograph appearing on the mother and toddlers website.
  • During an event, the toddler group should let parents and others know when they can photograph or video their child. Remember, when children are performing they can be distracted by flashes, so photographs should be taken at an appropriate time.
  • There are certain occasions where it may not be appropriate to take photographs, e.g. in any activity where a child is semi-naked such as in a paddling pool or swimming baths.
  • When using photographs of children and young people, use group pictures and never identify them by name or other personal details. including their e-mail or postal addresses, or telephone numbers.
  • For further information on data protection issues, contact the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF. Tel: 0303 123 1113 Email: Customer Service Team at casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Web: www.ico.gov.uk

    For further help and advice on child protection, contact CCPAS, PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent BR8 7UQ. Tel: 0845 120 4550 Email: info@ccpas.co.uk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Web: www.ccpas.co.uk

    Simon Bass

    Deputy CEO, CCPAS

    April 2010