Regional photojournalists are being assaulted and threatened with death while covering coroanvirus-related assignments, according to a body which represents them.
The British Press Photographers’ Association says its members have reported being physically assaulted, trolled on social media and receiving threats of death and violence while covering the outbreak.
Other incidents being reported to the BPPA by photographers included incitement to attacka and even being spat at by members of the public.
As a result, the organisation has issued an open letter calling for more understanding for the vital role being carried out by their members.
In the letter, the BPPA wrote: “Research conducted by The BPPA on interactions between bona fide press photographers and the general public during their coverage of the COVID-19 crisis revealed some very disturbing results in a number of regions across the UK, where photographers reported being threatened with violence, physically assaulted, trolled on social media, death threats, incitement to attack, even being spat at by members of the public whilst working on coronavirus-related assignments.
“This is absolutely despicable behaviour. It is completely unacceptable by any means and at any time and should not be tolerated by any member of the press.
“These are criminal offences and The BPPA strongly advise any of our members or any non-member to report such incidents to the authorities immediately.”
“No person, keyworker or other, should go to work with the fear of physical attack or abuse. Press photographers do not have the luxury of reporting from home, they have to be out in the field seeing and communicating what is in front of them and do this with a variety of camera equipment, be that with wide angle, standard or telephoto lenses.”
The letter added: “If you should happen to see a press photographer out on assignment during the current crisis and you are curious, please do not be afraid to ask for their credentials and have a chat (while observing social distancing advice please), we’re human like everyone else, with families and loved ones who are just as eager for life to return to normal as you.”