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Police officer tells man he's not allowed to photograph children

A photographer who took pictures of a child vandalising woodland was questioned by police.

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A 69-year-old man was questioned by the police after a neighbour reported that he had taken pictures of a child damaging woodland near his house.
During the Easter holiday Geoffrey Massey from Somersham asked a group of children to stop damaging trees which sit behind his house.
I asked them nicely and they moved away but later on they came back so again I asked them to stop damaging the trees and all but one of them left.
He continued: “At that point I went inside, got my camera and as he walked away I snapped a picture of him. When the child realised I was taking his picture he turned round and told me that I cant' do that and that he would tell someone what I did. Well later that day the lady that child-minds him came round and told me she would report me as I'm not allowed to take pictures of children without consent from their parents.
The next morning a community support officer and a police officer came to his house to ask him about the incident.
The officer was talking to me and said I don't care if you're a professional photographer or not you can't take a picture of a child without written consent of the parent.
Mr Massey, who was so shocked by the situation forgot to ask for the officers' badge numbers or name proceeded to show the police officer one of the many articles which highlights the fact that taking photographs of children is not illegal before she went on to ask if she could look at his camera and computer.
I said no and she said she would have to send a specialist officer round. Nothing came of it and it was all a bit of a storm in a teacup if you ask me as the police left on good terms.

The whole thing's really put me off taking pictures though. I used to take a camera everywhere with me but I don't do this anymore.”
ePHOTOzine contacted the National Police Improvement Agency about the incident and we are currently waiting for their response.

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peterjones 18 5.0k 1 United Kingdom
22 Apr 2009 2:31PM
It is I believe not illegal to take pictures of anyone in a public place including children; due to intense paranoia suffered by the UK in general it is unwise however to point your camera in the direction of children.

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22 Apr 2009 2:42PM
I'm happy that we haven't instituted that kind of restrictions in the USA. Privacy Laws are good, however I find it disturbing that you are not allowed to take photos of somebody, regardless of age, who would be vandalizing private property.
filter99 12 7 United Kingdom
22 Apr 2009 3:40PM
once again its a case of people thinking they know the law and getting it wrong. I have generally sought permission even though i know i do not need to and always offered a copy of the picture to the parents or guardians.
Consulo 15 840 10 Scotland
22 Apr 2009 6:31PM
Let's hear it for our paranoid, big brother state, everybody!
cameracat 16 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
22 Apr 2009 7:51PM
So Mr Masseys answer to the issue, Is to lay down, Give in, Give up photography, No wonder the paranoid brigade are taking control.

Why is he not taking this matter further, Why is he not demanding some legal action be taken against the vandals, Hell ! He's even got photographic evidence to prove his case.

The most likely scenario is that he can't be bothered, Or just wants a quiet life, ( don't we all ) However the only way to win a battle is, Unfortunately to fight......!
mtble 14 7 United Kingdom
23 Apr 2009 9:01AM
Its ridiculous that Mr Massey has been treated this way, when all he was trying to do was prevent a REAL crime.
Also in the article, if the boy is supposed to be in the care of a childminder, she couldn't have been doing a very good job!
This country is mad!
sidaorb 14 3.9k 2 England
23 Apr 2009 9:07AM
Even if Mr Massey didnt take the officers shoulder numbers at the time of their visit, by contacting the Professional Standards Department at the force headquaters they will easily be able to trace the officers involved.

If I'd received the call from the 'child minder' I would have advised her exactly what the law was. However we dont have any idea what slant, if any, she put on the original report
23 Apr 2009 9:52AM
'You are reminded that, under UK law, there are no restrictions on taking photographs in a public place or on photography of individuals, whether they are adults or minors. There is no right to privacy in a public place, although photographers are of course subject to the usual libel laws in the same way as any other citizen and should observe them. Equipment or film may not be confiscated, or images deleted by any person or officer unless a warrant for such action is issued. Any attempt without a warrant is considered assault under UK law.

I was at my local camera club the other night and we were given this to download from the guest speaker's web site. Well worth having a copy on you alongside your camera
Jenni Alexander
martin_hurton 12 200 United Kingdom
23 Apr 2009 11:27AM
I heard a comment whilst taking photographs at an easter weekend event. It was along the lines of

"I'd be really annoyed if a photograph of me turned up in next months magazine or the newspaper. You can't just go around photographing what you want, you need permission"

I kept my mouth shut. But it is worrying that the person even felt the need to make such a comment. The really sad thing though is that I wasn't even surprised to hear this.

Do they honestly think all of the celebs, royals, footballers etc give permission to be photographed? No, but they still buy OK magazine.
23 Apr 2009 12:48PM
Welcome to the mad-house. Not only does the little scumbag get away with vandalism but even at such a young age he knows how to play the system to his advantage.

I know this is a photography forum but nothing makes my blood boil more than the persistent trampling of decent people by oiks that know had to lead the looney liberal left by their noses.

Rant over
Coleslaw 14 13.4k 28 Wales
23 Apr 2009 1:18PM
I think it is totally disgusting.
I would have asked the childminder to stick it up she knows where.
Andy1979 13 755 2 England
23 Apr 2009 4:50PM
What is the world coming to when you cant take pictures without feeling that you have done something wrong, or be-littled about it , Yes there is some nasty people on this earth but you cant tag everyone in the same boat , this country is so paranoid about things people need to take a step back, To me it is just silly, I wanted to take some pictures of our children a few weeks ago when we where camping in the play area, but i said to the other half i dont want too as people mite think i am a perv, its such a tricky situation taking a picture these days you have to be so careful,. Its about time something was done about it!!.
23 Apr 2009 6:15PM
It won't be too long now that taking pictures at carnivals will be frowned upon.
Do we need the written/verbal permission from the parents of beauty queens?
2009, just a bit later than 1984 but George got it right.
mark_delta 12 1.3k
23 Apr 2009 7:59PM
Print the pictures of the child damaging the tree and send them to the local Authority that Issues the lady in question with her licence to childmind along with a statement telling them about the incident of vandalism this lady in question allows the children she is licensed to "care" for to get up to without her supervision.
What goes around comes around !
Paul Morgan 19 19.4k 6 England
25 Apr 2009 3:19PM

Quote:He's even got photographic evidence to prove his case

Not really, the child was leaving the scene.

Had a few run in`s myself with the authorities Sad

A classic was when my daughter was approached by a PCSO and local newspaper tog/reporter asking her if they could take her picture too use in a local newspaper Story.

She was of the understanding the story had something to do with the local Park and improvements.

We were pretty shocked when the story appeared along with her picture with her full name printed bellow, on a story on under age
drinking Sad

There were two other young girls photographed with here, the youngest about 11 and no parental consent had been given or sort for.

We ended up passing this on to the Press Complaints Commission and its now in the archives on line.

Caused us and a daughters a lot of upset and stress at the time, being seen as unfit parents and all that in our small town.

Seems there`s rules for them and rules for us Smile
Paul Morgan 19 19.4k 6 England
26 Apr 2009 12:31AM

Quote:ePHOTOzine contacted the National Police Improvement Agency about the incident and we are currently waiting for their response

Lol, never herd of them, they really do need to get them selves sorted out.
Orinoco 11 7 1 England
26 Apr 2009 8:58PM
i have been approached by a community bobby while out taking pictures in the street. after a brief conversation he left me to get on.. but does any one know if a PCSO has the right to stop and question anyone at all. i may be wrong so please see fit to set the record straight but the PCSO do not carry warrant cards and only have the same powers as a member of the general public ie citizens arrest. is this right?

Henchard 15 2.7k 1 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2009 9:28AM

Quote: but does any one know if a PCSO has the right to stop and question anyone at all. i may be wrong so please see fit to set the record straight but the PCSO do not carry warrant cards and only have the same powers as a member of the general public ie citizens arrest. is this right?


PSCO Powers
curryeater 13 1 England
28 Apr 2009 2:53PM
This is just another example of looking after the criminal rather than the victim. It is time our Home Secretary cleaned up the act. The police should have thanked the photographer and asked for a copy of the vandals picture to press charges of criminal damage.

I am a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator and would take pictures of any act I witnessed and expect action to be taken.
28 Apr 2009 3:05PM
I take my camera everywhere with me and an event like this would NOT put me off taking pictures, however` one would think that anyone with any common sense would NOT take pictures of Children.

Sadly` the recent bad press that came along concerning young children has left the whole World thinking that Anyone with a camera MUST be Child sex offenders !, most Adults over-react to any camera these days and even the humble Bobby has been known to claim memory cards and turf happy snappers out of public area`s for no GOOD reason.

The whole World has become Paranoid .... and yet GOOGLE still have the freedom of Every City in the world ? .. what a strange Joke it has all become.
Parsec1 13 22
5 May 2009 9:56PM
Well if you have the dosh and the strength carry a couple of Nikons ie one over each shoulder and a nice Leica m8-2, with 24 on your chest and mothers will come to you begging for you to take thier little darlings snaps and e-mail them on to them.
Its happened loads and loads of times to me in fact I was once asked to go into a childrens playground by parents wanting me to take pictures.
'Stand up and be seen'.......The 'evil ones' are those that do not want to be seen.
uggyy 14 2.1k 9 Scotland
22 Jun 2009 2:12PM
Was there ever any official reply?

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