Scout chiefs adopt Post's opt-out idea

Evening Post: objected to using first names only

Scout leaders have backed down after refusing to allow a leading regional newspaper to give full names of members of its troops in picture captions.

When Bristol’s Evening Post stood by its policy of using full names only, Scout leaders agreed to introduce an “opt-out” process rather than impose a blanket ban on press photography.

Under the “opt-out” system, parents and guardians can ask for individual children not to be named or not to appear in photographs. This would stop wholesale photo bans being imposed on events involving children.

The Scouts’ attempt to stop its troops being fully named at a fun day is seen as part of the growing trend to withhold traditional material from the local press in a misguided attempt to block paedophiles.

The Evening Post has launched “The Lost Generation” campaign to stop blanket bans on the press from photographing events involving children.

It follows an incident where the paper was denied access to an annual concert of 1,000 primary schoolchildren at the Colston Hall in Bristol because the organisers said parents had not been asked for permission for their children to be photographed (Press Gazette, 25 June).

Evening Post editor Mike Lowe suggested that schools in the Bristol area adopt the “opt-out” policy at the start of each school year to stop blanket bans such as that imposed at the concert from happening again. Local education chiefs have indicated that they favour the proposal.

In the story involving the Scouts, the Evening Post was invited to take pictures of 300 youngsters attending the Woodhouse Scout Camp fun day, but was told it could only use first names in captions.

After the paper made its objections clear, the Scouting movement in the Avon area said it would change its policy.

Philip Bird, the Scouts’ assistant county commissioner, said: “We very much value the publicity given to the Scouting movement by photographs of our members being published in the Evening Post.

“Photographs in the media of youngsters enjoying Scouting helps to show what a diverse and exciting movement Scouting is.

“An ‘opt-out’ process is being introduced at large events so that leaders are aware of any parents or guardians that do not wish photographs or details of their child to be published.”

By Jon Slattery

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