Liverpool County FA would like to remind people involved in the grassroots game across Merseyside of the legal factors regarding photography at Under-18 football events.
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Liverpool County FA’s safeguarding team, whose contact details are at the foot of this page.
Is It Illegal to Take a Picture of a Child or Young Person Under 18?
We often get asked this question: Is it illegal to take a picture of a child in the UK?
There’s no simple answer to this question. So let’s take a closer look at what the law says, before exploring some general guidelines.
UK law only covers indecent images of children.
The law states that “Taking, making, sharing and possessing indecent images and pseudo-photographs of people under 18 is illegal. A pseudo-photograph is an image made by computer-graphics or otherwise which appears to be a photograph.”
What counts as “indecent” is not defined by legislation. But the Home Office offers some guidance on what this, and other terms might mean, details of which can be found by following the following link:
HOME OFFICE GUIDANCE
The problem is, many parents worry about photos of children that could never be termed “indecent”. They worry that perfectly innocent photos of their children could fall into the wrong hands.
Parents generally worry about three things:
- Images they themselves take of their children could put their children at risk.
- Children could use their smartphones to share their own pictures, without their parents’ knowledge.
- A stranger could take a picture of their child, without the child’s or the parents’ knowledge.
It’s not illegal for parents to take pictures of their children, or of other parents’ children. Nor is it illegal for children to take pictures of themselves, or their friends. And despite what many parents seem to think, there’s nothing in UK law to say that it’s illegal for strangers to take photos of children.
In every case, the law only comes into play if the photos can be classed as “indecent”.
But there are risks associated with any image of any child appearing online. It’s important that we take the time to understand these risks.
Any photo of a child posted online could leave children vulnerable to grooming. The risk is greater if the photo’s shared along with information that makes the child identifiable – such as a club or team football kit.
Images may be shared online by would-be abusers. Anyone can copy, download, screenshot or share any image. And with image-editing software, even a perfectly innocuous picture can be transformed into something totally inappropriate.
Other risks are more long-term. For example, the terms of service of certain online platforms states that any images shared on their sites become the property of the network. They could sell these photos to third parties. So the image of your child could be used for commercial purposes without you realising it.
You also need to consider your child’s public image. Any image of them posted online could haunt them for the rest of their life. Something that seems funny when they’re a child could affect their self-image in later life. Certain images could even harm their chances of getting a job.
For leagues and clubs, the course of action is clear.
The NSPCC has some detailed guidance on photography and sharing images:
“Some children, parents or carers may not be comfortable with images of themselves or their children being shared. For example, if a child and their family have experienced abuse they may worry about the perpetrator tracing them online. Or children who choose not to have contact with some members of their family may decide to minimise their online presence.”
The solution is a photography policy statement. The NSPCC has a template for creating a policy for your organisation, whether that be a League or individual club.
You can read the guide, and download the policy template, on the NPSCC website by following the below link:
The Football Association ‘Best Practice Safeguarding Guidance on Photography’ can also be found on the following link:
BEST PRACTICE SAFEGUARDING GUIDANCE ON PHOTOGRAPHY
It’s a good idea to never share any images of your children online. The risks are too great, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
But when it comes to taking and sharing pictures of your children, the main thing to consider is consent. Would your children be happy with you sharing photos of them?
Once again, the NSPCC has some great guidance on this issue:
“Children should always be consulted about the use of their image and give consent to it being used. They must be aware that a photo or video is being taken and understand what the image is going to be used for. You should ask them how they feel about the image being shared online.”
The NSPCC have some advice on parental consent, on written consent, and on considerations for older children and young adults. Details of this can again be found by following the link already included above.
Though this advice is written for organisations, it’s good advice for parents too. It might be a bit much to seek written consent forms from your own children. But it’s still a good idea to ask them how they feel about these things, and to ensure they understand the risks of sharing images online.
Even if you have no intention of sharing the photos, you must still take precautions when storing images of children.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a detailed guide to securely storing images and other potentially sensitive files.
What do you do if you find a photo of your child online? Maybe it’s been shared by someone you don’t know on social media. Or maybe it’s appeared on the site of an event you attended.
In the latter case, you should contact the League or Club that organised the event and request to see their photography policy statement. Even if they reserve the right to use any images taken at their event, they should still honour your request to take down any photos you ask them to.
Once more, the Information Commissioner’s Office has a few guidelines that might help here. Their guide to accessing information from a public body is an essential read. It’s also worth reading their guide to whether organisations need your consent for photos.
At the end of the NSPCC guide there’s a series of references and resources that might give you an idea of what to do when faced with this issue.
The Ann Craft Trust also have a short guide to photography. This guide refers to adults at risk, but the principles are essentially the same and can be found by following the below link:
ANN CRAFT TRUST GUIDANCE
If you have any other questions about safeguarding children, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0151 523 4488 and ask to speak to either Gordon Johnson or Nicola Ray from the LCFA Safeguarding team.
Alternatively, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org