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Sex pictures shock!

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Fairground, South ShieldsCurly taken for a ride

Did I mention something about being taken for ride in my last post?

Well I was, but I never imagined that a trip to the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in South Shields would result in a ride in the back of a police car, being questioned about taking pictures of a sexual nature (and we are not talking of someone of Britney Spears age either!)

Have I ever mentioned CCTV cameras in the past?

Yes on numerous occasions.

Have I ever stated that we are becoming a nation of suspects in the past?

Yes, on numerous occasions.

Have I ever voiced the fear that we may quietly lurch towards a police state in the past?

Yes, on numerous occasions.

So let me start at the beginning – I parked my car at the Littlehaven Hotel, South Shields, this afternoon and walked across the beach with two intentions in mind (a) recording the extent of the damage to the sea wall on Harbour Drive for a post in this blog tomorrow, and (b) taking some pictures in the fairground for use in South Shields Daily Photo, as an illustration of the sort of things that South Shields folks get up to on an Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Please bear in mind that presenting a site such as this requires a lot of photographs with regular fresh input, nothing is worse than repetition.

I was well wrapped up, as usual, wearing my normal photographic kit which has many large deep pockets suited for carrying lens, spare batteries, flash gun etc. I also had my normal heavy bag with me just in case I decided to use any other filters or a third lens. I spent some time at both locations but at one stage had to take shelter in the waltzer as hailstones beat down, stinging the face and battering against the camera. Whilst under shelter I continued to shoot scenes (I found it fascinating that people still wanted to wander around the park and have fun, despite the atrocious weather.)

After an hour and a half I made my way back to the car satisfied that I have gained enough new material over the past couple of days to keep the site running for the next week or so. I drove through another hailstorm towards the South Marine Park and then along Ocean Road to check the size of the queue at Colmans, from there I proceeded towards Anderson Street and see a police car coming towards me from the direction of the Town Hall, blue lights flashing, siren wailing, in an obvious hurry to get somewhere. It did a U turn and came up behind me, by now I had slowed to a stop along with a couple of other cars, as we all assumed the police car wanted to get past. It appeared that he didn’t, perhaps he wanted to turn left just in front of the Voyager, so we all moved off again to give him room. But no, he’s still behind me, now flashing his headlights too, good God, he wants me!

My mind runs around thinking of things like tax disc, lights, body damage, and satisfied myself that all was in order, so I turned into Beach Road, parked up and approached the police officer. He wants me to go back to my car switch everything off, lock it and get into the back of the police car!

Crikey, what the hell do they think I’ve been up to? If, like me, you have never been in this situation in your life before perhaps you can imagine the slightly panicked state of mind.

“You wish to speak to me?”

“Yes sir, if you don’t mind stepping into the rear of my car”

“Is there something wrong with my car or my driving?”

“No, no sir, nothing like that at all, we are responding to an emergency call from someone in The Sundial who has reported you as taking pictures of children in the play park”

“Play park? I haven’t been near any play park! I’ve been on the beach and in the fairground, and I’ve never been anywhere near The Sundial either, surely you must have the wrong person?”

“Sorry sir, but we tracked you on the CCTV cameras, got your registration number and that’s why I need to talk to you, you are exactly as described”

After confirming name and address, date of birth, electoral roll, and telephone number, I offered to get my camera and show the officer all of the pictures that I’d taken this afternoon (click the thumbnail above, for an example).

“Dodgem cars, fairground rides, beach, is that all sir?

“Yes, help yourself, view them all”

Whilst he was viewing, I gave him one of my cards confirming that I have an occasional monetary interest in taking photographs, and whilst he was getting interested, news came through on his radio that I was a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator and had reported a number of crimes and leads in my area (not that it’s the most crime ridden street in South Shields) and it became clear that an innocent individual had been lifted off the street at the behest of some illiberal busy body who thinks the man with a camera is obviously a dangerous paedophile.

“I’m sorry sir, this is obviously a terrible misunderstanding, but I suppose you realise that we get more and more of these calls every week these days. I was looking at a bloke’s camera recently, and I can tell you the pictures weren’t the sort that you have taken”

“What I cannot understand is, you said someone in The Sundial rang 999 and reported me, I haven’t been anywhere near The Sundial, I haven’t been anywhere near the park, you said I was tracked by the CCTV cameras, so you should have known that I’d been in the fairground!”

“So sorry sir, we have to follow these calls, and may I thank you for being so co-operative. Have a good day sir”

Have good day sir, hmph! Well to be fair he was extremely courteous and easy to deal with, but it has left a bad taste in the mouth I can tell you. Any idea how many people I saw taking pictures in the fairground with their nice shiny digital cameras today? Any idea how many Motorola V8 type camera phones I’ve seen pointed at smiling faces in the fairground today?

Yes – many!

Thing is, if you are wearing a shell suit, baseball cap, and rockies, you don’t look the least suspicious in this day and age, but if you have a digital SLR with a large zoom lens you really have it for a nasty purpose in mind! Yes, we are becoming a nation of suspects, we are also becoming a nation of ninnies and nincompoops wrapped in the cotton wool of the nanny state, too bothered with our own little suspicions and personal foibles to be able to talk to the bloke with the camera, why worry they’ll see him on the CCTV cameras surely?

I write now, with the person who dialled 999 in mind. (If he/she ever gets round to reading this.)
Do you know, if you had came up to me and asked “what the hell I was doing?” You might have found out that, on the whole I’m a pretty straight kinda guy (as some former Prime Minister professed) , you might have discovered that I am actually personable (when I’m not ranting), you might have found out about some interesting websites that portray South Shields to the world, you might have found out that I’m a family guy too with a wife and two lovely children, you might have had a rewarding experience.

You know, it’s what we used to call “being neighbourly.”

Instead you have demonstrated a typical and ignorant knee jerk reaction, taken not a blind bit of notice of all the other cameras being used around you, without realising that under British law there is virtually no such thing as privacy in a public place, and wasted a considerable amount of police time and mine into the bargain. Have a nice day!

Right that’s got that off of my chest!

If you would like to see more of the pictures that I took this afternoon check back with this blog tomorrow, or South Shields Daily Photo any time after midnight.

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Written by curly

March 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm

150 Responses

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  1. Time was when a photographer took pictures in (or from) a public place there was sod all anyone could do about it. Frankly I think we should go back to that position.

    All this crap about protecting children – what about protecting adults? If parents believe that taking their children to the fun-fair is exposing them to the unwanted attentions of paedos then they shouldn’t do it. Anyway, what’s wrong with sitting them down in the safety of their own homes in front of the telly? And it’s so much cheaper, and better for the environment, too.

    Lock the little ratbags up for their own good, I say.

    Chuck Unsworth

    March 24, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  2. Curly, that is so depressing.

    Obviously the police officer was only doing his job and it sounds like he dealt with you with civility and respect, but what a sad reflection on modern society when an innocent man with a legitimate interest in photography and his home town is stopped and questioned under such circumstances.

    I don’t have any kids myself but have often heard stories about Mums and Dads not being allowed to film their kids in school plays etc etc… It’s the nanny state gone mad.

    I can’t even imagine how it must have made you feel. As you say, it leaves a nasty after taste.

    Good on you for sharing your experience with the public. It is a stark reminder of the direction our country is going in.

    I guess George Orwell wasn’t that far out after all (sigh).

    David Potts

    March 24, 2008 at 10:55 pm

  3. […] had a fairly testing time taking a batch of pictures yesterday, you can read all about it here, it left me wondering if it’s worth all the bother. I hope somebody tells me that it is. If […]

  4. Please don’t let this put you off – I have only recently discovered your sites and think they are wonderful (in fact the daily photo is selected as one of my start up pages when I log online). Speaking as an “ex-pat” of Tyneside as it were (currently on the South Coast), I think the tourist info people should recommend your site to anyone who wants to know about the “real” Tyneside, and I will be taking my kids to see some of the places in your photos when we visit the area next month so they can see them for themselves what they have seen online.

    My daughter is starting to show an interest in photography as part of her Art studies at school, so she in particular has been interested as you provide so much info on camera and settings etc, which is giving her ideas of how to achieve the shots she wants.

    Keep up the good work!

    C Pearce

    March 25, 2008 at 12:21 am

  5. I find that it’s best not to go out at all these days; even on duty!

    Everyone is a potential Government statistic of some kind or other!


    March 25, 2008 at 12:27 am

  6. this is a horrible story… i’ve been stopped on the street and asked/accused of taking photos of things that I could sell, or post online for someone to come steal things… but your story is much worse.


    March 25, 2008 at 1:20 am

  7. How did the police get their wrong information about you in the first place Curly? I don’t understand how their CCTV followed you from the park when it was clearly not you.


    March 25, 2008 at 12:27 pm

  8. I guess that the complainant was NOT where the police said he/she was Ellee, they must have been fairly close to me to give a good description. Hence the camera operators were able to track my movements.

    Good grief, they may even have “snapped” me with their camera phone -heaven forbid!


    March 25, 2008 at 12:40 pm

  9. Can’t see what your problem is really. From what you have described the police officer treated you correctly and with respect so no problem there. He had a duty to investigate the allegation. As regards the person who dialled 999, they have perceived your actions (rightly or wrongly) as suspicious and called the police. I hope they were acting in good faith. Assuming they were, they were quite right to call 999. In fact I would argue you were lucky they did call the police as opposed to the possibility of a South Shields vigilante (unable to distinguish the differencebetween Paedophile and Paediatrics) giving you a good thrashing without calling the police.

    Lord Litchfield

    March 25, 2008 at 12:43 pm

  10. This is a classic case of ‘damned if you do’ & ‘damned if you don’t’

    Curly, someone thought you were a perv taking photos of kids.
    They called the police.
    The police did their job, questioned you politely and established the facts.
    You were then free to leave and go about your lawful business.
    Result – Curly moans about big brother/police state.

    Pervert on the sex offenders register taking photos of kids.
    Nobody bothers to call police.
    Result – Curly moans about lack of police action/breakdown of society.

    You can’t have it both ways Curly. What the hell does a Paedophile look like anyway? Do you know one when you see one? How about the following scenario:

    Pervert on the sex offenders register taking photos of kids.
    Member of the public (not knowing it’s a pervert) thinks it suspicious.
    Calls police.
    Pervert stopped and questioned, camera looked at.
    Officer finds out he’s a registered sex offender.
    Pervert arrested.
    Result – Curly is happy for once.

    And no I would not have been pleased to have been followed on CCTV and stopped as you were. But, having been treated well by the officer and having thought about what happened, I would reflect on the fact that in trying to catch the bad guys, often innocent people get stopped occasionally. As long as those innocent people stopped are treated well (as it appears you were). I cannot see any justification in your bleating.

    Father Ted

    March 25, 2008 at 1:45 pm

  11. I’m no expert Father Ted but I guess a paedophile with a camera in hand in a fairground might just look interested in children, not fairground machinery or fast moving monsters in the sky – what do you think?

    By the way, a lot of my time was spent with my lens pointed up towards the sky, and I still wish my complainant had come and spoke to me. Is it really that difficult?

    Oh, and btw, there was no need to lose your noble title for the second comment.


    March 25, 2008 at 2:23 pm

  12. No way, Curly! Is it the same person posting twice under different names? Haha!

    Anyway, you two guys using pseudonyms (or is there indeed just one of you?) seem to be missing the point here. Curly is addressing the state of our society and the legislative and cultural shifts.

    Why you should choose to attack under the guise of anonymity is rather odd.

    Go on, use your real name(s). Your comments would carry far more weight if you did.

    David Potts

    March 25, 2008 at 2:34 pm

  13. The cultural shift is quite important David, in all honesty South Shields is as safe a place for children as anywhere else, however the lurid reporting of some crimes by the press have the effect of instilling unwarranted fears in parents.

    The truth of the matter is that the number and frequency of child sex offences is remarkably low, but the type of reporting that they attract is often sensationalist. However this does not address the issue of how we as individuals see our roles and responsibilities in society, and the general fear that we have of approaching strangers to ascertain their bona fides. Nor does it answer the “spin” that the ever growing proliferation of CCTV cameras deters criminals, plainly many people are prepared to commit crime under the watchful eye of the camera. They are a good tool for detection but the best deterrent is often the member of the general public being prepared to do something about crime in his/her neighbourhood.

    One of the best tools that the police have at their disposal is the willing witness prepared to make a statement or pick someone out of an identity parade, and then being prepared to testify in a court.

    It helps if the witness actually sees crime being committed in the first place though, as police resources do seem to be stretched at times.


    March 25, 2008 at 2:55 pm

  14. It’s a fact that those with a perverted interest in children often take photos of them in innocent locations and situations. Take a look at the photo heading this blog posting as an example. Now in no way am I insinuating that you took photos of children for any other purpose than legitimate ones. It is simply a question of how your actions were perceived by the person who called the police. Had they assumed you were harmless I am sure they may have approached you in a friendly manner and asked what you were doing (if they were indeed that interested). Unfortunately for you they perceived your actions otherwise and chose to call the police. I for one am pleased there are people out there prepared to call the police when their gut instinct tells them a situation does not feel right. It is for the simple reason that most people do not like to think ill of others that more calls are not made and the bad people escape detection.

    It would appear we will have to beg to differ on this occasion. As much as I can understand and appreciate your irritation and perhaps embarrassment about being stopped and questioned by the police (bearing in mind the reason for them stopping you – which innocent person wouldn’t be embarrassed?). I hope you can put that to one side and consider if not accept an alternative viewpoint of the scenario.

    By the way, Lord Litchfield is a different person but a member of my family. Same computer, different contributor. We choose not to give our e-mail address. Is ‘Big Brother’ watching me now?

    Father Ted

    March 25, 2008 at 2:57 pm

  15. David – I’m not attacking Curly in any way shape or form. Just trying to put an alternative viewpoint. Apart from the huge amount of CCTV in our lives it would appear that Curly’s predicament was dealt with by the police in a traditional common sense manner at the scene, using discretion and tact. It could so easily, with the wrong officer, gone horribly wrong for Curly.

    Father Ted

    March 25, 2008 at 3:05 pm

  16. Sadly, Curly, that’s modern British journalism for you. It isn’t necessarily about reporting the facts, rather being proponents of a populist point of view. It’s all about circulation.

    Alas scaremongering does little to bring the real culprits to justice.

    Father Ted – I understand your position, but I feel that you fail to recognise the larger picture. For instance do you agree with parents being banned from taking snaps or filming their kids’ school and social events?

    David Potts

    March 25, 2008 at 3:20 pm

  17. I can see both sides of this. Sorry to sit on the fence. But once a complaint had been made, albeit in this case malicious or simply mistaken, I for one am glad that the Police did look into it. And glad that common sense prevailed once it became apparent you were not up to no good.

    It reminds me of a recent story in our local paper of an elderly chap who was arrested for suspected shoplifting. It subsequently turned out he was innocent. But he kept bleating to the papers that he wanted a full apology and compensation as he had been humiliated. Now please don’t get me wrong, I can understand how upset he must have been but the sad truth is there are plenty of people (elderly and otherwise) who do shoplift and therefore he was less likely to be considered innocent because of it.

    The sad truth is Curly, that although you, and I presume everyone who knows you, know you’re a decent chap it just takes one person with a camera to be up to no good for some people to consider anyone with a camera is the same. I think all you can do it stick at it and not let it get you down. These things happen.

    PS. I would really miss your photo’s as I love the way you document what is great about this country, it’s diversity. And how you can make something as simple as a fence or a rooftop fascinating. Especially with your little snippets of history. As someone whose Mother was a Geordie, and who used to spend her school holidays in Bedlington, I for one love this little window on the North East.


    March 25, 2008 at 7:59 pm

  18. Hi Curly. More power to your elbow mate. And i feel a little sympathy not only for your posts but for those of Father Ted, David and Lord Litchfield above (- Great post Debs btw). Your (Curly) posts are great. We (do I speak for more than I?) enjoy them and the Police Officer who investigated the ‘incident’ sounds like a very reasonable guy. The fault here is not with you, or my fellow bloggers, but with the sort of perv who get up to the sort of activity which we probably don’t want to go into. I, (as the father of a girl who has now grown up to be a very balanced individual of whom I am inordinately proud) have had to spend a proportion of my time as a father of a growing child wondering what others might think of my (innocent!) actions as ‘normal’ father, because of _that_ sort of person and their hideous activities.

    Keep posting your pictures mate. That was a lovely picture of the waltzer – I love the way you managed to get the core of the ride in focus and the cars out of.

    Andrew (One of those who check you out every day)

    Andrew Young

    March 25, 2008 at 8:33 pm

  19. Thanks for the encouragement, I have no intention of putting the camera away, it’s been almost a lifelong hobby. It’s just such a great shame that that public perceptions are being manipulated by the actions of the very few, to the point where the majority start to suffer.

    I have absolutely no complaint about the policeman, the officer was a gentleman and very courteous, however,if (as he told me), the incident had been tracked on CCTV then one must ask who looked at the evidence before sending a police car screaming around the town with blue lights flashing?

    IF THEY HAD LOOKED carefully at the CCTV they would have KNOWN that the story didn’t fit, they would have known that I could not have moved from the direction of The Sundial or the children’s park, the CCTV would show this to be a nonsense. So why was this officer’s time wasted by being sent out on a wild goose chase? Another target to achieve? Another statistic to be noted as an incident dealt with?

    Surely they have some real criminals to catch somewhere, such as the killers of Noddy Rice and Kevin Nightingale!


    March 25, 2008 at 8:55 pm

  20. Curly, firstly I am not Father Ted, but I was at his house this afternoon and your post got us into a good discussion so thanks for that. I am now at home on my computer (as I am sure your high tech tracking equipment will confirm. Please don’t bite. I’m being sarcastic).

    Going back to your post I would say that I 100% defend your right to wonder around the North East taking photos of whatever you want. However, whilst at a fairground where there are children present and taking photos which include them, you should be prepared to justify your actions when questioned. It would be good to think that the person doubting your sincerity would ask you directly what you were doing, but in todays fear ridden society I am not surprised he/she didn’t. They did what they thought was correct and assuming they acted in good faith, called the police. The police are really the only people who could have determined your legitimacy. This would have been done via your personal ID, Police National Computer checks etc and that could only be done after they had stopped to question you at the time. Yes it’s embarrassing; yes it’s inconvenient; yes it’s annoying but unfortunately once that 999 call is made the police had a duty to investigate it. It seems that they did that quite professionally. A good response by the sound of it – blue lights flashing and all – well within their target time of 12mins I should imagine! My own take on it is that I would rather it was the UK police that stopped me and not one of the semi military Euro type forces. If that were the case it could have been messy. Happy snapping Curly.

    Lord Litchfield

    March 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm

  21. I wrote about such things on one of my blog entries last year. Not that I’ve ever been stopped, but it does seem to be on the increase. You are either a child molester or a spy for the Middle East if you carry a decent camera. A large about of my photos don’t have people in them at all and those that do appear are just passers by. We see some great shots of children playing on DP nearly everyday, alas the majority are from other countries.


    March 25, 2008 at 11:13 pm

  22. That should be “a large amount of my photos…” by the way.


    March 25, 2008 at 11:15 pm

  23. I’m glad you took the time to report the whole sorry episode. The whole thing has got to silly proportions here too, with some people having been apprehended for photographing on the beach.

    The Surf Life Saving Association claim copyright on images if they contain their flags or uniforms too, and that’s the other creeping monster about to pounce!

    The last time I was “arrested” for photographing things (and like you, innocence has thus far been a perfect defence!) was in the Subway system in Moscow. I even got scared for a bit!

    Love your pics though, they were worth the aggro!




    March 25, 2008 at 11:23 pm

  24. I’m loud and clear on the “keep on going side” and for those who say “I can see both sides” I have one thing to say – I can see both sides and there is only one side that is right. Currently there is a wave of hysteria and a knee jerk reaction brought about by the fear of the potent combination of paedophillia and terrorism. Frankly, and I may be stoned for saying so, there are actually worse things (or maybe just as bad things) than paedophollia. Here’s a point – I wonder if someone can tell me if the crime of sullying the memory of her Holiness the Very Reverend Lady Diana is better or worse than that?

    But more relavantly, can anyone look me in the eye and say that the high profile measures that we see and put up each day with go any distance at all to providing meaningful protection against the putative threat?

    Let me enlarge. Everyone stands around at airports handing over their toenail clippers saying “at least a terrorist can’t take a knife on board”. I’m sure that’s right – just as long as the terrorist hasn’t heard of a cermaic knife, or does the decent thing and leaves it at home on the day he wants to cause havoc. Liquids? let’s hope that he doesn’t think of using a multi-layer bag wall for his explosives and keeps on using a water bottle that can be found and confiscated. That whole regime is unmitigated crap and I venture (admitting my ignorance) can do nothing to improve safety, (and as a side point I have unknowingly carried a 4″ rather sharp lock knife onto a plane recently, and that was a normal metal one)

    Photographs. Of course, that makes sense. By harassing anyone with a camera that will stop any images of children being circulated. That premise is so far off beam that it hardly warrants a response.

    IT IS NOT A CRIME TO TAKE A PICTURE OF ANYONE IN A PUBLIC PLACE. The police are wrong to infringe our freedom to suggest that it is so. Any policeman arresting you should have reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed and thankfully carrying a camera is not yet a crime.

    The whole affair is an example of the ridiculous mass hysteria whipped up for dubious purpose – that same ignorant fervour that saw a paediatrician hounded a few years back. All those who say “ah yes, I can see the other side” – THERE IS NO OTHER SIDE. At least not in a democracy that allows freedom of thought and expression. What we are discussing here is thought crime – dress it up how you may, that’s what it is. Being arrested or questioned for looking as if you might be the sort of person who commits a crime is plain wrong. It’s wrong to stop people because they are black, it is just as wrong to stop people who are carrying a camera. You shouldn’t have to justify yourself for carrying a camera.

    So yesterday when I was taking photographs in Brixton, and a shopkeeper said “No, don’t take photos” I smiled and put my camera away. And got out my compact and carried on.

    I’d like to say that if I was in that same situation I’d force the police into an untenable situation, make them arrest me and then lodge a complaint for wrongful arrest. But I suspect that in truth I would do the same as you did and try to follow the path of least resistance.

    Oh yes, did I mention that I liked the fairground shots?


    March 25, 2008 at 11:30 pm

  25. Curly, What an ordeal! I’m happy that it turned out okay for you, but it’s pretty scary. It could have been worse, if the officer hadn’t believe you. Glad it’s over!!


    March 26, 2008 at 1:46 am

  26. […] and yes I know a thing or two about wasting police time, and you can buy the book […]

  27. […] After my experience the other day following a visit to South Shields Ocean Beach Amusement Park, I am glad to see that certain Members of Parliament are also concerned at the growing culture to frustrate and restrict the ability of photographers to enjoy the hobby, record life as we see it, and provide reportage directly as events happen. […]

  28. Sorry it has taken me so long to cotton on to this, but you need to be a little more discreet about your movements. The post previous to this one tells the whole world where you intend going to later in the day. Anyone who might “have it in for you” could easily find you and report on your movements, making up whatever they might fancy. I know of one or two who read your blog several times in the day and are quite capable of doing this.


    March 28, 2008 at 11:43 am

  29. Do you really think people are as bad as that in South Shields?
    I’m not so sure.


    March 28, 2008 at 12:12 pm

  30. Curly, so sorry this happened to you. Your photographic skill is outstanding and your choice of subjects always appropriate. It is obvious the caller had an over active imagination.


    March 29, 2008 at 8:07 pm

  31. […] constantly shifting attitudes towards safety and privacy as illustrated in the post that I made in Curly’s Corner Shop on Monday 24th of this month. The story was subsequently picked up by our local newspaper The Shields Gazette and it was […]

  32. Curly, I don’t even know what to say. . . I saw your comments on the Forum first and then read this. So sorry it happened to you. Please don’t let it affect your passion for CDP.


    March 30, 2008 at 2:25 am

  33. It is so easy to have one’s motives questioned like this and of course the jobsworths are rampant everywhere. What happens when a child DOES go missing – the media circulate pictures of the child. If the child had gone missing from the fairground where Curley was taking photos, then maybe one of his photos would have vital evidence. Far from endangering anyone such photography is actually protective.


    March 30, 2008 at 8:38 am

  34. That must have been simply awful, Curly. Don’t let it stop you, please.

    With so many children reported missing or worse these days and reading so much about pedophiles, perhaps it’s not surprising tho. If you were a woman photographer, I suspect his wouldn’t have happened. I often photograph children and the families look at me and smile and we say how cute the kids are. If I were a man, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if things were different.


    March 30, 2008 at 9:41 am

  35. ah, we crossed in mid-air, Curly – thanks for your comment and request – but as you see, I’ve already made a comment. Keep up the good work – maybe carrying some printed documentation showing you have a South Shields blog and so photograph life in South Shields. Might that help?


    March 30, 2008 at 9:43 am

  36. Your story is very disturbing not just because of the incident with the police but because it sounds so “today” as if it was just “normal”. The suspicion, the vigilance. So much “today”. All common sense lost. Its not yet so bad in New Zealand, although I must admit that I feel uneasy to point my camera towards strangers, particularly children. I have been doing a conscious effort lately to reverse that and photograph more people and to the Kiwi’s credit in most cases my camera have been greeted with a smile or best of all with the indifference of something that is considered to be just “normal”. Incidents like the one you have been through leave deep scars to a person like yourself sensitive to his environs and fellow citizens. I sincerely hope that this has awaken a few and created at least some awareness to innocence lost. Please do not get discouraged and carry on with your good work.


    March 30, 2008 at 9:48 am

  37. Well I’m 100% with you and I’ve nothing to add to what Ham said. As for Lord Litchfield, I’m suspicious of his comment that the British Police will give you a fairer chance than their European counterparts. I live in Switzerland which might well count as one of those countries he alludes to, and have never been challenged about my photography – much of it done in airports etc which seem off-limits in much of the rest of the so-called “free world”. Wasn’t it the British Police that shot dead an innocent man on suspicion of being a terrorist? There is a growing number of people in the UK who have rather misguided views about the relative qualities of British society compared with the rest of Europe.


    March 30, 2008 at 4:26 pm

  38. It’s really sad what has become of life these days, I can understand the kind of experience you must have gone through, because some idiot was insecure. I burn’t $100,000 in the US on an education, I was brown skinned and harrased several times although polietly because someone felt I was a risk to them, without knowing who I was and what I was doing, without even bothering to reply to a smily hello. What is the world comming to.


    March 30, 2008 at 5:57 pm

  39. Curly, I agree with Jilly that this wouldn’t have happened if you were “Curlotta”. Whoever monitors the CCTV and makes “the call for action” obviously made a mistake and that should be looked into further by authorities. You certainly had to advocate for yourself or you would have found yourself in “the klink”. And why didn’t the police ask to look at you cameras first. Are people considered guilty before being proven innocent in South Shields? We don’t have CCTV everywhere in the states so this is an eye opener for me (except for watching MI-5).
    Just a thought for you for future outings . . . and please make sure you don’t slow down your fantastic photo sharing . . . get a business card made up with your CDPB address on it that you can hand to people be it police or other suspicious ones. I find that when I notice people are uncomfortable with my taking their picture in public it puts them at ease pretty quickly if I tell them what I’m doing. Handing them a card gives them the perception that I’m “okay”, “legit”. This would also be good PR for the City Daily Photo Blog community. I’m sorry this happened to you but what a great discourse is coming out of it.


    March 30, 2008 at 6:02 pm

  40. As you said, “Crikey, what the hell”. Strange thing is, I too feel the glaring eyes when I have my DSLR camera out. Ironically, nobody really pays attention to the little point and shoot cams. A brave new world we live in. “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”as reported by Benjamin Franklin in 1759.


    March 30, 2008 at 8:06 pm

  41. Hi Curly I can appreciate many of the views on this site,but above all its a sad reflection of the society we live in that we no longer trust the person who lives next door,or are edgy when alone outside,or just mistrustful overall,I have a friend who gets many hours of pleasure from his camera but no longer takes as many on the spot shots in case he encounters your problem. Myself the last thing I do at night b4 logging off is look at this site as I love your work and get great pleasure from it.

    viv forrest

    March 31, 2008 at 10:30 pm

  42. […] during March the previous record for the amount of unique visitors was broken on Tuesday 25th, when this post became a massive draw, with 2002 page views it was by far and away the most popular post of the […]

  43. […] Sex pictures shock  […]

  44. […] I’ll be taking my camera with me (if anyone wishes to inform Northumbria Police!) […]

  45. when taking these said photos of people at the fair ground did you have there permission to then post them on your site as i am sure you have to get that 1st since you can not be sure who is looking at your site.
    I for one would not like some old man taking photos of my child and placing them on a site for all to see my be you need to think about that next time you go taking photos in a public place.As for the police pulling you they are doing there job there paid to do and making sure you where not some sex pest up to know good


    April 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm

  46. Mitch, the pictures were long exposures of rides, very blurred to show the motion, no children in them!


    April 15, 2008 at 6:53 pm

  47. sorry correct me if i am wrong but there is kids in the photo at the top of the page and i dont think a long zoom lens would be needed to take shots of the rides. You go on about mindless busy bodys who have the intests of are kids who go to the fair to enjoy themselfs and not be plaged by sex pests im not saying that are 1 but to
    call who ever told the police and showed there concern i would not call a liberal busy body
    Maybe next time you go out out in the streets of shields you wear some kind of ID badge so are busy body public
    dont get the wrong idea about you and stick to photos of buildings and kids rides


    April 15, 2008 at 8:00 pm

  48. sorry (NOT kids rides)


    April 15, 2008 at 8:06 pm

  49. Mitch, I said long exposure not long lens. (Take a look through some pages of South Shields Daily Photo.
    So perhaps we should go down the ID badge route Mitch eh?
    A nice big Red Star for anyone with a Digital SLR, compact digital camera, or camera phone? (faint reminders of Nazi Germany)

    Hmm, yeah, that’ll go down a treat.


    April 15, 2008 at 8:43 pm

  50. Yet another testament to the stupidity and paranoia that’s been foisted on us by the State and the mainstream media in the name of “protecting us from terrorism”!

    And re going the ID badge route… that’s merely feeding the paranoia even more by implicitly sanctioning the harassment of innocent photographers.
    I’d even begun to think about letting the cops know beforehand whenever I propose to visit some village or other to take scenic shots (complete with my pair of dSLRs – one with a long lens – and bl***y great photo-backpack). But then decided against it cos that too is merely an implicit sanction.

    Well posted Curly!


    April 16, 2008 at 12:49 am

  51. “very blurred to show the motion, no children in them” – sorry Curly but I’m with Mitch here. The picture which heads up this article isn’t blurred and there are people (including children) who are clearly identifiable in it. They should therefore have either been asked for permission prior to posting the photo or should have had their faces digitised. Come on curly – level playing fields and all that . . . Or are you advocating one rule for you, one rule for the rest of us?! Surely not LOL 😉


    April 16, 2008 at 1:14 pm

  52. “So perhaps we should go down the ID badge route Mitch eh? A nice big Red Star for anyone with a Digital SLR, compact digital camera, or camera phone? (faint reminders of Nazi Germany)”

    And come on: don’t demean this worthwhile blog by trying to compare any suggestions that – when engaged on professional business – photographers should carry ID (as they actually should) with the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. That’s beneath you curly


    April 16, 2008 at 1:27 pm

  53. look this could go on and on but at the end of the day the police were acting on a call to which they have to act on thats what we pay are taxs for and until they find out the facts behind the call that was made to them.
    in this case there was nothing untowards going but until they find out the facts they have to ask and he was sent on his way with an apology


    April 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

  54. Without trying to create a protracted argument may I answer three points raised by obaker and mitch above.

    Firstly, as I stated in the original post, I do carry identification and my business card for those who wish to see it when I am out taking photographs in public (it was offered to the policeman.) Secondly there is no specific requirement in British law to ask for permission to publish any photographs of people taken in or from public places, unless it is deemed that you are invading their privacy (i.e. photographing them in their home with a long lens from a public place) or harassing them. The legal position is set out in this .pdf by written by Linda Macpherson LL.B, Dip.L.P., LL.M, who is a lecturer in law at Heriot Watt University, with particular experience in Information Technology Law, Intellectual Property Law and Media Law.

    Finally mitch, whilst I understand the position you are taking it must be remembered that I was told that I had been tracked via CCTV cameras, therefore I question how well the cameras were monitored. If they had been faithfully following me (as stated by the policeman) one would have assumed that an evaluation of this evidence might have deduced that insufficient evidence was available to conclude “reasonable suspicion” of a crime being committed. This is the first test that is required before police can properly carry out a stop and search routine.

    However, it is an academic point, the policeman was extremely courteous and polite and I can have no complaint about the way he handled the situation. The whole situation would not have occurred if the complainant had had the courage to approach and question me first and gain an understanding of what I was doing.

    Finally it is worth supporting (via your MP) the efforts of Austin Mitchell the MP for Great Grimsby and his Early Day Motion before the House of Commons.


    April 16, 2008 at 9:13 pm

  55. […] on from the massive amounts of reads for this post outlining my Easter troubles in South Shields, a number of other photobloggers, journalists, […]

  56. […] Sex pictures shock […]

  57. […] know to my own cost that CCTV cameras are capable of reading vehicle registration plates in South Shields too – […]

  58. you might be interested in signing this petiton, if you have not already.


    April 26, 2008 at 2:20 pm

  59. You shouldn’t let this lie, especially the claim that you were tracked on CCTV which from what you say is not 100% true. You really should make an official complaint.


    April 26, 2008 at 2:33 pm

  60. They should really crack down on all those zoophiles who take pictures of animals for their perverse pleasure. I make sure to report anyone I see who is taking lots of pictures of animals. It is obvious to me what they are up to.


    April 26, 2008 at 2:35 pm

  61. […] pm on April 26, 2008 | # | A South Tyneside photographer was picked up by police after being accused of taking photographs of children by a member of public. Of course it wasn’t true and it turned out that he’d been taking pictures of the beach […]

  62. actually, paedophiles don’t whack off to innocent pictures of children at play. And if they did, they wouldn’t have to go out and take them themselves, as those pictures are freely available everywhere. Better stop the department store catalogues circulating, in case some pervert gets his rocks off!

    Taking pictures is not automatically a suspicious activity. If he was following one particular child around, taking their picture, or trying to make contact with a child without the notice of other adults, that might be suspicious…or he might be a relative.


    April 26, 2008 at 3:17 pm

  63. Hey. American here. What’s a tax disc and why would you have to show it to police and why would the policeman have to see your electoral roll (why would he care how you vote) and why do you have to be a member of your neighborhood watch to take pictures in public?
    Wow…I know things aren’t great for us with big brother, but what is going on across the pond? You guys aren’t heading towards big brother…you’re there.
    Good luck taking pics in the future.


    April 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm

  64. Can I just ask a really obvious question?

    What’s actually wrong with Curly taking photos of children /even if/ he had a sexual predeliciton to paedophilia? The prohibition on owning child pornography is because child pornography is, usually, photographs of children being abused. Thus, the argument goes, downloading child porn creates a market for the abuse of children, perpetuating the problems of the victims of these types of despicable crimes. That’s why there are laws against sexually-explicit pictures of children.

    What with all the tabloid brouhaha over child porn and paedophilia, we seem (as a society) to have shifted to a situation where the photography of children /itself/ is harmful, no matter what the circumstances. This is an obvious twist of logic – where as the problem with child-porn used to be that it contained pictures of children being abused, we’re now in a situation where the problem is the camera itself; it’s as if Laura Mulvey’s theories of scopophilia have become taken as literal descriptions of harm. They’re not. Taking photos of people does not harm them. There is nothing inherently abusive about taking a picture of someone.

    But let’s be sensible about this. Even /if/ Curly’s photos were to fuel some obscure, strange fetish for kids on funfairs, what harm has been done? Who suffers? Who’s the victim? Where’s the demonstrable damage? If he’s taken them for his own pleasure and uses them for sexual stimulation (which, if the coppers knew anything about paraphilias at all, they would realise was beyond highly improbable), why is this, in and of itself, a bad thing?

    This kind of thinking (as demonstrated by Father Ted and his friend) is magical. It relies on some kind of metaphysical fear that the act of photography is directly harmful in and of itself. It relies on a mode of thinking that posits the capturing of photons as directly dangerous, harmful or abusive. In other words – it’s nonsense from the very core, even if Curly was a paedophile who happened to enjoy pictures of kids riding dodgems (which he isn’t and which, I’d guess, pretty much no-one on the whole planet is).

    Matt Volatile

    April 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm

  65. American – a tax disc is just proof you’ve paid your road tax (obligatory for all motor vehicles), and the electoral roll is just a register of where you live. It doesn’t specify your voting preferences. Hell, unlike the US, we don’t even have primaries and thus our general party affiliation (unless we are paid up members) cannot be known.

    You’re paranoid, in other words.

    Matt Volatile

    April 26, 2008 at 3:52 pm

  66. Whoa, alright…I had no idea what they were. Beside the paranoia…(which I’m sure I have, but not because of this)…I just had no idea what those things were. Thanks for clearing them up. It makes more sense now, just different names for the same things every driver has. Thanks.


    April 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm

  67. Yeah, that’s pretty crazy. Another American here. I just had to say wow, I was really feeling bad about my country until I saw this. We may have a nutty president who spies on our every move, but at least we catch him out when he’s doing it and let him know it’s wrong. Also, he wouldn’t dare to make up any weird nonsensical laws such as this one, which affect the public on such a vastly negative scale.

    I work in a place that is fairly touristy.. some folks from the UK came in and I had to ask them, what’s with all this nonsense that you can’t take a photo? And they promptly explained, “Oh, yes. Pedophiles, you know. Can’t take a picture anywhere, really.”

    Now, in the general population, what is the ratio of pedophiles to regular folks? 1 in 10,000? I honestly don’t know, and a quick google didn’t tell me. But surely, normal folks outnumber pedophiles by a large number. So their answer is to ban everyone from taking pictures?

    You guys are two steps away from having to have a curfew. Everyone has to be inside by 10pm or we’ll shoot you! Why? Because anyone out after 10 is probably only out so they can burglarize homes, mug people, and maybe put graffiti on the walls. We need a curfew to REALLY be safe, right?

    Come on, dudes. Let’s all watch V for Vendetta, get inspired, and go have a revolution or something, mkay? We can help each other out! The wronged citizens of two countries, standing up for true freedom!

    Do you guys have a Civil Liberties union of some kind?


    April 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm

  68. Matt Volatile — the issue with taking photos of children (at least here in the states) is that in some cases it is a prelude to picking out one particular child for subsequent interest that can lead up to, and include stalking. I have seen with my own eyes a “Miss Pedobait” contest web page that included several toddlers and preschools (not in posed positions, but on slides etc., at the playground, nothing indecent at all.) The visitor to the page was supposed to vote for his favorite, and then was led to a page with notes about the picture, where it was taken, when, and in a couple of cases notes about the family, siblings, and what the photographer might have heard the child’s name as.

    There were also postings about the best children’s playgrounds for “skirt upshot” photos (see-through treads on a play staircase) and when they were most and least crowded.

    I am sorry that this happened to you, Curly. But I agree with the posters above that you need to be prepared for self-justification whenever taking pictures in public. It’s just a new world now.


    April 26, 2008 at 5:58 pm

  69. I’m not sure why he has to go “belly up” and let the policeman
    root around your photos. even if you were taking photos of
    children in a park. its a park. taking pictures in a park
    shouldnt give probable cause to a policeman to check that all
    your photos are “wholesome.” that seems like the litmus test
    for a police state.


    April 26, 2008 at 6:41 pm

  70. Father Ted,

    Can I come to your house and search it? I have a feeling that I’ll find a lot of interesting things. It’s always the people screaming about law and order and berating those who dare question authority that are the ones who are the worse offenders (google; governor New York prostitute).

    Seriously…I officially point the finger at you as a potential creep; will you allow me or someone who lives near you to search through your property and personal possessions?

    Jonnny 5

    April 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm

  71. You know I really am sorry that this happened to you.

    But, we are unfortunately becoming a Nation where men are molesting raping babies and children faster than we can get them born. You could never walk up to me or stay abay and I catch you or any other stranger taking photographs of my grandchildren – sorry – its not those kind of days anymore.

    So when a person with a digital SLR w/a lge zoom lens is snapping away I don’t care if they have on the shell suit, baseball cap, and rockies, or a 2 piece suit w/tie somehow they are viewed the enemy with good reason why.

    Yet, we should never try to judge a man simply becuz of his SLR, baseball cap, rockies, hoodies or lens – huh?

    Hope you’re having a Flawless Day Today,


    April 26, 2008 at 7:44 pm

  72. Hey, you had it easy! Check out what happened in Spitalfields market and in Middlesbrough. But keep up the good work!
    Paolo from Italy, who still wishes to relocate to London


    April 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm

  73. 1995, August, small town Minnesota. My three boys and their three male friends all ages 3-7 are having a great time running through the sprinkler in a private fenced back yard. They have no clothes on. Two sets of parents of said children are nearby, chatting at picnic table on deck. I take a dozen pictures of the boys. They are so cute, laughing, falling down,leaping. Mother’s pride and joy, pictures will go into scrapbooks one of these days. One week later, I am in jail. My kids are removed from my custody. An employee of the local discount photo developer blew a whistle. This did not happen. Because it was 1995 and not 5+ years later.


    April 26, 2008 at 8:22 pm

  74. […] premier blogger Curly spent a few minutes having to explain himself to some policemen after taking some photos at a funfair. There were children playing on the dodgems and some local made the logical assumption that Curly […]

  75. Let the witch hunts begin!

    Dark Cloud

    April 26, 2008 at 10:58 pm

  76. Blame the Daily Mail.

    Seriously, they make money out of feeding suspicion and fear. Child abuse is no more common now than it was in the 50’s. And when it does (sadly) happen, it most likely to be a relative, NOT a stranger.

    Blame the government for this current bizarre climate. They, and all the assembled ranks of bureaucracy feed on fictional enemies. Whether they be immigrants, paedoes, terrorists, whatever.

    Those absurd “report any suspicious behaviour” posters and radio ads. They make my blood boil. Total waste of my tax money.

    And the end result is pompous little idiots twitching at every street photographer and art student with a camera, and reporting them to the police. Crazy.


    April 26, 2008 at 10:59 pm

  77. Pitiable. I;m seeing all to many of these stories these days. Guess I’m getting old, and not liking some of the changes to the world since I was growing up (I’m 62 this year). :o(

    Do keep up the good work, though. Nice images!

    (You might want to check your “Digg” link – it sees to be having a problem sending along the correct URL – it doubles-up the last part of it.)

    Take care!


    April 26, 2008 at 11:11 pm

  78. Someone said “I for one would not like some old man taking photos of my child and placing them on a site for all to see”

    But… you take your children, quite rightly, out into public places FOR ALL TO SEE. Other people can use their eyes, see you children’s faces, and IT’S NOT A PROBLEM.

    In a sane world, a parent would be excited, pleased and proud to see an (anonymous) photo of their child in the paper, or on the internet.

    But now, oh my God, paranoia, it’s a cause for panic and worry about paedos and some such nonsense. Get a grip people. This is getting stupid.


    April 26, 2008 at 11:16 pm

  79. I’m amazed.. Shocked and amazed.

    Now lets pretend for a second that you were actually guilty of suspicious behavior. How could the police officer be sure you didn’t change your memory card just before he pulled you over? Fear, terror and the illusion of safety, indeed.

    I DO want my child to be safe, but my child is going to grow up one day, and she should also be saved from this kind of bull.


    April 26, 2008 at 11:44 pm

  80. Rubbish! Show me the numbers…you can’t because the rate is going down.

    Thank God he hadn’t even caught a child in the edge of one landscape shot, or he’d have been arrested.

    I left Britain in 2003 because of this insanity, and I never made a better decision. Toronto is much more like the sane, normal Britain I grew up in than the current CCTV-addicted “sorry, Sir you can’t stand there, or walk here, or look at this or take a picture of that” police state. My children do not live in skulking fear of everyone around them, people can take pictures at the park, and police do not routinely threaten people for asking that their basic freedoms be respected. Of course in the nanny state, no one has freedoms.

    Anytime a Briton tells me he lives in a free country, I laugh out loud.

    Daniel T

    April 27, 2008 at 1:40 am

  81. It is quite obvious from this man’s photograph that he is a bit wrong. His crumpled middle aged face, his barely literate syntax, his photos of children, his self professed love of Daily Mail politics. He should be humanely destroyed in a state furnace. I would gladly flick the switch.

    Finley Pink

    April 27, 2008 at 2:19 am

  82. I’m pretty worried about this turn of events that’s happened to photographers lately, I regularly shoot in parks in Scotland with lenses greater than 200mm long – so we’re talking the scary, serious looking lens which clearly might be regarded as something that couldn’t ever be used for wildlife shots – but I use chemical film so there’s no possibility of me just showing a police officer what I’ve been shooting.

    So this raised a few worrying questions for me : Does this mean that I get frogmarched to the nearest 1-hour photo lab to prove my sexual normality? Or do I get locked up until the prints come back? (And furthermore will I be able to claim the expense of clearing my name back from the the police service?) Do I need to buy a several hundred pound DSLR just in case I need to show a police officer that I’m shooting squirrels, birds and trees, as opposed to children?

    I think that is a horrible prospect. Don’t think of it as a fair enough concept to be worried because someone is using a camera with a removable lens. Terrorists do not use bulky cameras, they’re trying not to be suspected and the News of the World has literally photographed convicted paedophiles using standard consumer handheld video cameras to record moving images of children – not still SLRs.


    April 27, 2008 at 2:36 am

  83. you might have found out that I’m a family guy too with a wife and two lovely children,

    and if that wasn’t the case? Nice to know that only family men can be considered quality people.


    April 27, 2008 at 3:06 am

  84. it was the lady in the spectacles who ratted you! I can tell

    :nice mini smliey:


    April 27, 2008 at 3:38 am

  85. […] They track him on community security cameras and a cop pulls him over. […]

  86. Why did you show the pictures?

    You are right about the slippery slope — and every time somebody gives in to the police acting like they make the rules, we slip a little further.

    Do what the law requires, no more. Politely but firmly assert your rights.


    April 27, 2008 at 11:50 am

  87. What the police should do is go back and ticket the person for accusing you (falsely).

    Anthony Murrey

    April 27, 2008 at 1:38 pm

  88. […] people may be rendered slaves through fear, as Naomi Wolf chronicled in The End Of America. Blogger Curly got a lesson on how easily we slip into a police state. My mind runs around thinking of things like […]

  89. Gosh, the UK is getting to be really big brother. Aren’t you one of the countries with the most TV cameras in the world? I’m Spanish, and though people prate on about ID cards in the Anglo Saxon countries (UK, US), you are way more watched there than here in Spain. It was really scary when I visited, everywhere there was a big black eye watching. And no one seemed to notice. I’m going to study in the UK, I’m a photographer as well what will happen to me? I’ve read that toilet paper called the Daily Wail, sorry Mail, and it’s just horrid. They are scaring everyone thinking there are paedophiles around every corner. Seriously, people you are slowly turning into a police state, did you think it will happen suddenly so you can say ahah now this I won’t tolerate? It will happens slowly and reasonably and neighbours will be drafted into to watch each other “because there are bad people out there wanting our kids” and “I can see both sides”, and EVERYBODY is treated as a criminal, guilty until proven innocent. If a paedophile really wanted and desperately needed pictures of kids, he (occasionally she) can just go to the nearest clothes catalogue in the supermarket with the kids (girls) wearing revealing clothes.


    April 27, 2008 at 2:22 pm

  90. There is a degree of hysteria in the wind these days to be sure. Such fear can cause people to call for more and more “security” measures to protect themselves from a perceived threat. The trouble is that the mechanism of protection can also be used in the service of tyranny. There has to be a sensible balance.

    I’m not surprised that the officer did his job with courtesy. When I visited England many years ago I was impressed by the overall professionalism of your police. In the United States, this scenario may not have had such a happy ending. The officer might be quite rude, attempt to pick a fight and, If poor Curly had offered the least argument, possibly beat the “suspect” into the ground. This would be more likely if Curly were of another race, or poor.

    I am disturbed by the English love of monitoring cameras, just as I am disturbed by my fellow countryman’s love of guns. Just because your police force is, more or less, benevolent now – It doesn’t mean they will be so in the future. You are building the apparatus of a police state and some day your government might decide to use it for reasons other than to protect you.

    I agree with Curly in this. The individual had only to come up and inquire to be put at ease. Calling the police in this case based on only a perception of a threat was cowardly and a waste of police services. But fear works like that. Soon everyone is a suspect. Everyone a potential enemy. Better to turn in your neighbor now than take a chance that he might be thinking something improper. Soon thinking might itself become a crime… This is sadly becoming the case in the U.S. I would hope that the English people would display more intelligence. We could all use some of your common sense right now…

    David Miles

    April 27, 2008 at 2:32 pm

  91. I think quite a few people are misunderstanding a very simple fact here.
    Someone called 999 and reported Curly as being in totally separate place taking the photos. And that someone supposedly tracked him on the cameras and said “yes that’s him and his vehicle”, in and from a place that he had not been.
    The person who called 999 obviously has paranoia problems in the extreme. To not only freak out about someone taking pictures but then to lie about the local of said picture taking. That person must have a truly miserable life. Or else it’s a guilty conscience from their own actions.
    And whoever checked the cameras or video??? They need glasses and an intense in-service on facial recognition and body comparison.
    While I can’t fault someone calling the law for suspicious behavior or to have someone checked out? I can and do fault a person lying!!! It’s a horrible situation when parents are afraid to let their children out to play, walk to school, to the store or to a friends house. And yes the media has played a huge part in blowing it out of context.
    But of course EVERYONE knows that the real rapists, murderers, kidnappers, pedophiles, drug dealers and terrorists all run around with a sign attached to their backs, horns on their heads, tentacles for arms and oozing slime.
    Never in a million years would they dare look so much like the next door neighbor, an uncle, a cousin, a babysitter, a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a grandfather, a grandmother, a teacher, a priest……I hope you get the ‘picture’.
    Curly, sorry it happened, but glad too in a way. I don’t know you from ‘Adam’ and who’s to say that you weren’t really a creep. But for myself? If I saw someone that creeped me out or doing something illegal I sure the heck wouldn’t walk up to them and say “HI” are you a ??? (pick one from the 1st list above), or are you ??? (pick from 2nd list above) and take their word for it. I’ve got decent instincts but I am not gonna trust them 100%. Nor am I gonna put myself in the position of vulnerability maybe accosting one of ??? (from the 1st list above!!) I like living with all my pieces and parts just the way they are.
    To my way of thinking I would much rather call the law, they have the means to check someone’s creditability out throughly.


    April 27, 2008 at 3:21 pm

  92. […] In Middlesbrough, UK, wird ein Mann von der Polizei und privatem Sicherheitspersonal gewaltsam festgehalten – sein Verbrechen: Fotografieren auf einer öffentlichen Straße (Quelle). Genau dasselbe passiert einem australischen Touristen im Süden Englands (Quelle). Oder aber ein Fotograf auf einem Vergnügungspark wird denunziert, weil er in der Nähe von Kindern Bilder schoss – Identifikation von Gesicht und Autokennzeichen natürlich kein Problem, denn jede Ecke des Vereinigten Königreichs ist ja gepflastert mit CCTV Kameras (Quelle). […]

  93. If media merely reported as opposed to sensationalizing things might not have come to such a pass, and this neuroticism of ‘being photographed’ is catching on more as a trend as opposed to any real fear.

    Street photography is as much a hobby as it is a documentary tool, and a public place should be fair game for street photography as an art form.


    April 27, 2008 at 8:59 pm

  94. Hello, I’m writing from the U.S. There’s been a steady trickle of reports coming from the U.K. of over-exaggerated official responses to public photography. I’m having trouble understanding this trend, it’s so obviously textbook-Orwellian, I can’t believe the U.K. public hasn’t had a stronger outcry against it!
    Other than immediately post-9/11, there has been little official response or notice to public photography here, though videotaping occasionally gets a law enforcement response. Cellphone cameras are so ubiquitous I can’t see why law enforcement even attempts to restrict photography.
    I’m also having trouble wrapping my brain around the difference in Conservative/Liberal ideology in the U.K. You say you are more Conservative, yet have a pro-civil liberties outlook. In the U.S., it’s the Conservatives who want to “lock up everyone vaguely suspicious” and the Liberals are concerned about civil liberties.
    Good luck in your struggle for decency, no matter how its labeled.


    April 27, 2008 at 10:17 pm

  95. […] 2008-03-24, South Shields, UK […]

  96. […] members of the City Daily Photo network who contributed, supported, and helped raise the profile of this post that I made on 24th. March in my other blog. The issue is an emotive one and also a political one […]

  97. […] Sex pictures shock! « Curly’s Corner Shop, the blog! […]

  98. Oh dear, this is the third such story I’ve heard in the past week. What alarms me is not only that the police stopped you on the basis of shaky CCTV info, but also that they were so quick to let you go as soon as “Neighbourhood Watch” was mentioned (not questioning your credentials as a NW representative, of course). There’s an interesting insight into police thinking… someone with an SLR camera is obviously a paedophile, but wait a minute, he’s in the Neighbourhood Watch, so he simply *can’t* be a paedophile after all. And of course, Brazilians are just middle-eastern trrrsts in disguise!


    April 28, 2008 at 10:31 am

  99. I find this all HUGELY depressing. There was a time when you could as a reasonably normal looking photographer go out and take pictures of children playing, fairgrounds, school buildings, city streets, and god forbid your own children without someone calling the police to “protect children”. In fact you could take a picture of ANYTHING you liked and nobody would immediately assume you were up to no good. They might ask you why, but only to protect their privacy and most photographers carry release forms for models to sign. No problem. It’s nothing to do with terrorists and pedophiles, because we had both of those in the past… so what’s changed?

    Why is censorship so palatable when you are “protecting children” from theoretical sex offenders and terrorists? When did we lose the right to free speech? I don’t remember voting for that… When did we all become so paranoid that EVERYONE who is not US was up to no good? Guilty till proven innocent. Who stands to gain from us being scared of our neighbours, strangers, foreigners and good lord even our own families? Has the whole country gone crazy?


    We are being manipulated. I would like to say it’s deliberate and it’s part of some huge control conspiracy but no. It’s almost accidental but serves a purpose. We are being manipulated by a loose and uncoordinated mass of government and business people for their own gain. That’s all. We are being ripped off to further a few people’s careers and line the pockets of media bosses. I wish it was more sinister but it’s not. They don’t want to rule the world they just want to own most of it. And we are giving it to them of our own free will. Our civil liberties are being snatched away and our right to make art restricted so badly that nobody will be able to express themselves freely and for what? So that a few already wealthy people can get even more rich.

    Inflaming the masses collective minds about pedophiles, terrorists and weirdoes out to murder our children sells newspapers and keeps politicians in jobs. And the most evil part is the bit where anyone who complains is branded as condoning terrorism or pedophilia to shut them up. When disagreement is shouted down and debate is strangled where is this democracy we are so fond of telling everyone we have?

    Test everything with this question: who stands to gain from us being afraid of mythical monsters? Not us. Those we look to for protection and information. And those we elect to protect us need things to protect us FROM. If there’s nothing out there then they need to MAKE something because we will realise that we don’t need them and vote them out.

    How far has it got to go? When someone is arrested and put in prison for taking pictures at their own child’s birthday party? It’s not going to stop at inconvenience, being pulled over and delayed. People are going to lose their lives, scarred by accusations, or beaten to death by rabid mobs. I’m not scared of terrorists or pedophiles. I’m literally terrified of what we are doing to each other without help from any of these mythical beasts.

    The person mentioning V for Vendetta was bang on. Governments are not afraid of us anymore. Why would anyone fear a sheep?


    Phil South

    April 28, 2008 at 2:09 pm

  100. Interesting experience!

    I do think that amateur photographers inherently look suspicious when out and about in public places.

    You see, to catch a good shot, one sometimes has to look for (even search quite hard sometimes) a good position to shoot from and then wait… sometimes for a long time… to get the composition just right. Obviously, I wasn’t there, but my guess is that you were wandering about in a way which a layperson might perceive as a fairly suspicious way, watching people and watching the fairground rides. An onlooker isn’t necessarily going to know that your interest is in the machinery but most people would likely presume you’re interested in people.

    You average joe bloggs with a camera phone is visibly smiling and having fun with friends or family while snapping, whereas a photographer is much more serious looking… concentrating, etc.

    A photographer is looking around all the time. Judding people and things and composing continuously in the mind’s eye. That look about a photographer is fairly suspicious. Obviously, they’re holding a nice big, visible camera, but then that’s a judgement call on the part of an individual to decide whether camera = photographer or camera = criminal.

    You can’t blame a person for erring on the side of caution, especially a parent.

    If it were me, I’d have laughed it off. It would be a different matter if you’d been arrested wrongly… that would have been shocking. However, the officer went about things in a very proper manner. So in all, I reckon that actually made your trip especially eventful, rather than bad!

    I’ll certainly bear your experience in mind next time I’m in public with my camera.


    April 28, 2008 at 2:50 pm

  101. […] tai skaitmeninės stebėjimo kamerų akys. Ši mintis man toptelėjo pirmiausia, kai perskaičiau vieno anglų blogerio nuotykius, kuriuos jis patyrė befotografuodamas kažkokiame parke. Kai žmogus po viso to atsigavo, jam kilo […]

  102. […] This was written by admin. Posted on Monday, April 28, 2008, at 8:31 am. Filed under Random Intoxicants. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Post a comment or leave a trackback. […]

  103. […] said that, there are more than a few parents who really need to unclench their sphincters. Since when has it been illegal for anyone to take pictures in a public place? Oh, yeah, I forgot: […]

  104. I’m reading a lot of these stories via Boing Boing, and I’m much more on the photographer’s sides. But here’s a question: just out of curiosity, what would happen if the police or NW stopped a photographer, demanded to look at his photos, and *did* see photographs taken of children playing in the park? Or someone they stopped for taking pictures, of, say, a highway bridge. Since it’s legal to take pictures in public, what would they do? Haul him into jail? Is just having a perfectly legal, legally-taken photo of a child or a bridge on your camera justifiable cause to get a warrant to search someone’s home computer or apartment, looking for kiddie pron or terrorist bombs? I mean, what do the cops who stop someone expect to find or hear when they ask questions like, “What were you doing taking pictures of that bridge/child?” (as if a real no-do-gooder would answer truthfully!)? I suppose the most that you could hope to find would be someone who’s been ordered to stay away from kids…but even then, don’t the police need to have reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed to stop someone and search them? I wonder if “a call saying someone was taking perfectly legal photos of children” would count as reasonable suspicion… Not that I know UK law or anything, but still, I wonder what the do-gooders or the cops or the NW are thinking will be the end result of these kinds of stops…

    John Semple

    April 28, 2008 at 10:07 pm

  105. I just saw a link to this on one of the Flickr groups I visit. I feel we have gone to a “guilty by default” mentality. Out of intrest, I carry the following document, printed in my bag. I have never had to show it but it kinda makes me feel better knowing it is there.

    Julie Edwards

    April 29, 2008 at 10:27 am

  106. Curly,

    IMHO, IANAL, etc. the “best” course of action would have been to get the officer to assist you in PRESSING CRIMINAL CHARGES against your accuser for lodging a FALSE POLICE REPORT (assuming similar laws exist on your side of the pond). If they’re willing to ID you and chase you down on even the suspicion of an alleged crime, they should have no trouble going after someone you have just PROVEN to have lied to them (about your location and actions, if nothing else sticks). Taking no action against your accuser only emboldens them to continue their state-sponsored bigotry against photographers.

    Hell, it’s possible that your accuser is a paedo and stumbled on the fact that if you point off down the street screaming “PAEDOPHILE!!” (or just “PHOTOGRAPHER!” lately) and all the police near the park go running off after them, there won’t be any police near the park to stop the accuser from committing real crimes (though, maybe that’s what all the cameras are supposed to be for?). There’s a lot more at stake than your own comfort and privacy when you give over direction of your police force to anyone with a telephone. Without proper consequences for misuse, you’re not going to just get pranksters “crying wolf”, you’ll get criminals wantonly distracting the authorities for their own advantage. It’s really a form of terrorism just like fake bomb threats; it has to be stopped, and you’re in a position to do something about it, Curly.

    @mitch – just to stir the fire: a paedo out with a kidnapped victim would be very well served by your paranoia. what were you and your (alleged) child doing at the park that you wouldn’t want photographed and posted online for all to see? please note how your sword of righteous indignation cuts both ways and put it down before you hurt yourself.


    April 29, 2008 at 4:45 pm

  107. people are just sick and people like you have no business putting stuff like that on the internet so little kids can see it or read it in that matter

    mia wilson

    April 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm

  108. “people are just sick and people like you have no business putting stuff like that on the internet so little kids can see it or read it in that matter”

    And that’s the nub of this problem. People are now whipped up into such a state of hysteria that anyone with a camera is a threat. Like the recent campaign by the Met police in London to have anyone with a camera who acted “suspiciously” reported and arrested or the guy who was stopped in Oxford Street next to people with (and using) camera phones this is another example of people who have legally available cameras and who are using them legally and responsibly being persecuted. It’s amazing that we are having to carry pieces of paper with our civil rights documented to show people.


    April 30, 2008 at 6:20 am

  109. Yes Mark,
    I think that Mia Wilson’s comment is perfectly indicative of the current unfounded and irrational fears that people are choosing to live under.


    April 30, 2008 at 9:05 am

  110. This just really pisses me off. There was NO crime being committed as taking pictures, of anyone, in a public space is legal in the UK. Why the hell did the police listen to the imbecile who phoned 999 about such a trivial matter and send out a squad car in emergency mode? Instead, they should have tracked down this idiot and done them for wasting police time – and then promptly sent off to the school for rehabilitating fuckwits!


    April 30, 2008 at 11:36 am

  111. […] guy has it tough for no particular reason than suspicion of paedophilia from what I presume was over worrying […]

  112. […] and apprehend me. Should fears be allowed to interrupt the good administration of the law? You can read what happened to me […]

  113. […] has some great blogging about becoming as suspect at a fun fair after taking some pictures. Austin Mitchell had something similar happen and tabled an Early Day Motion on the subject and the […]

  114. […] saw the greatest number of unique visitors to this blog ever!, it also saw one particular post shoot to the top of the charts for the greatest number of page loads…! (An astonishing 21,058 page loads.) The 38,930 unique visitors represented a 90% increase in […]

  115. Curly, just come across this via and have added it to my growing collection of worrying news about England. Have just moved back here from Japan where you are allowed (at this moment anyway) to pretty much take pictures of whatever you like. This does mean that perverts openly stand on the beach with long lenses photographing the bikini babes. Thing is everyone knows they’re pervs but as someone above said no crime is actually being committed because no-one is hurt. Unfortunatley a lot of similar, more covert photography ends up in porn mags and videos and that needs to be stopped but,if you ask me, taking away that market: closing the magazine, video production company or website for displaying those images will take care of that. To attack, legally or physically, photographers because they may be perverts or terrorists is wrong because most of us are innocent people going about our innocent hobby or profession innocently. (sic)
    Luckily you sound like you met a good policeman who dealt professionally with this foolish complaint. The caller cannot also be blamed for reacting to the hysteria of the current UK media, especially the galatically stupid Daily Mail world view. Yes British people have bought too easily into that lie and are made stupid by it but as others have said, the government and business want us that way. Having come back here from many years abroad, and having sung Britain’s praises all that time regarding our sense of humour, sense of fair play and attractive lack of earnestness, I have to say I am disappointed with what I now see. What has happened? We have no real right of protest anymore and the anti-terrorism laws give the police powers to do almost anything they want. We have “dumbed-down” massively also and worse no-one cares, indeed many where I live in Kent are proud of their ignorance. Not sure I want my kids growing up here.
    And yet the fact that the wonderful EPUK and Austin Mitchell, plus many journalist and ordinary photographers, like your good self, are calmy and intelligently challenging this creaping control of the state gives me hope. All is not lost…but I took my camera around London yesterday and was challenged once by a security guard at the Gherkin tower. It’s not lost but we are close to losing it, I stood my ground, most won’t and this will embolden the goons and we might lose our freedoms oneday if we’re not careful. What we have lost already however is the freedom from fear that someone who needs such a power trip will spoil our day while we work or play in our very HARMLESS way.
    Nice pics on your site all the same. Keep shooting


    May 2, 2008 at 7:51 pm

  116. […] Sounds like a very familiar story, right on the first point, right on the second point, but utterly wrong about his proposed solution; “We are [beginning] to collate images from across London. This has got to be balanced against any Big Brother concerns, with safeguards. The images are from thefts, robberies and more serious crimes. Possibly the [database] could be national in future.” […]

  117. […] UK photographer chased down and detained for taking pix […]

  118. […] Sex Pictures Shock! […]

  119. […] mention this because of the unsavoury incident that I, and many other other photographers have been subjected to over the past couple of years, as […]

  120. Something is wrong when we have to to rely on people from the center right to defend our liberty, but something is wrong, very wrong.


    June 18, 2008 at 8:41 pm

  121. […] Sex pictures shock. […]

  122. […] who were banned for life from a shopping centre after snapping their grandchildren, a man who was mistaken for a pedophile for taking photos at a fairground, another photographer who was accosted after trying flash […]

  123. […] Sex pictures shock. […]

  124. […] a long term polemic against the War on Photographers, having been accosted by the authorities after taking pictures at a fair ground. This last post has some interesting reflections about the unwillingness of all of us to take […]

  125. […] did I receive an unexpected letter of support from South Shields MP David Miliband when I was stopped by police for photographing in the amusement park, and tracked by South Tyneside Council’s CCTV […]

  126. […] There is no hypocrisy here. An amateur photographer taking a picture of a crowd scene as a memento of a day out, for a competition at the local camera club or, perhaps, to hang on the wall is not monitoring his subjects’ behaviour, he is not following them about taking multiple images to use at a later stage against the subject as is the case with CCTV – as, indeed, happened to Graham Rigg. […]

  127. […] who were banned for life from a shopping centre after snapping their grandchildren, a man who was mistaken for a pedophile for taking photos at a fairground, another photographer who was accosted after trying flash […]

  128. […] who were banned for life from a shopping centre after snapping their grandchildren, a man who was mistaken for a pedophile for taking photos at a fairground, another photographer who was accosted after trying flash […]

  129. […] people think. Anyway, you know I’ve been CRB checked and work with the children in school, and I’ve read about the trouble you’ve had with your camera, I think we’d better try to arrange it for another […]

  130. […] who were banned for life from a shopping centre after snapping their grandchildren, a man who was mistaken for a pedophile for taking photos at a fairground, another photographer who was accosted after trying flash […]

  131. […] this, and try to understand why I get so hot under the collar, then read this to remind yourself that I do know exactly what it’s like. The Prevention of Terrorism Act […]

  132. […] Sex pictures shock […]

  133. […] crack a proverbial nut. Police  and PCSOs already have a veritable track record of preventing both amateur and professional photographers from going about their ordinary legitimate business and this insidious psection of law writing will only embolden them further in their quest to keep […]

  134. […] is an outrage not dissimilar to this, and it illustrates perfectly how we have meekly allowed our freedoms and rights to be stolen by […]

  135. […] remotely similar to my experience 16 months […]

  136. […] at Doctorow’s place. Oh well perhaps it will recover in a few days time, I know how it can be after my story appeared in Boing Boing back in 2008. The silliness of these situations begs all sorts of questions […]

  137. This is getting to a point when it is starting to be ridiculous. Not only the “suspicion state” we live in but also everything regarding the image rights. Magazines in France are using actors and studios to simulate street scenes and it is forbidden to publish pictures of the Eiffel Tower by night cause the company who put the illumination has claim the copyrights of it. This is sick! Future generations will inherit only manipulated images of our time. Sad, utterly sad!

    Sonia Nansid

    February 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm

  138. Seems like a lot of hysteria here, the Police are bound to respond to an emergency call; regulatory Officers, whether Police or Local Authority are damned if they do, or damned if they don’t respond to an urgent concern/allegation raised by a member of the public. Remember that, it was a member of the public who sparked off this “Curly” alert. Regarding CCTV, is anyone objecting to fact that photos of alleged football hooligans are being published in local press this week…


    February 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

    • I think there is a huge world of difference between alleged violent conduct and criminal behaviour, compared to the witnessed act of photographing the public areas of South Shields. By what stretch of the imagination do you consider photography to be an “emergency” requiring the response of the police or other regulatory bodies? Was property or life at threat?
      Remember too that I was tracked by CCTV, so my actions were plain to see and evaluate.
      Seems to me that valuable resources were either not used correctly, or otherwise wasted.
      Are you one of these people who would happily call 999 when you see a photographer using a camera in a fun fair?
      Where do you draw the line?
      Is it OK to snap pictures in public using a mobile phone or is that an emergency situation too ?
      Please remember, and there are plenty of references to this in the post and comments above, that when you are in a public place in the UK you have no automatic rights of privacy, there is no law or statute to outlaw the use of a camera, so long as the photographer is NOT causing harassment, or behaving in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace..


      February 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      • You extrapolate the conduct of one concerned member of the public on to me and make misconceived assumptions; I am au fait with the law, and take no pleasure when innocents have an annoying, potentially upsetting brush with Police or regulatory officers. But there have always been concerned members of the public who report a variety of relatively low key matters/incidents etc, and, regrettably, such persons, if ignored, can create hours of non productive time wasting work and hassle, not just for the Officers, LARegulatory, or Police/HMRC etc, but elected Councillors, MP’s et al.All I am doing is trying to put a different perspective on this incident as succinctly as possible.


        February 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

  139. As someone with a legal training and regulatory background I was well used to dealing with “tip offs” from members of the public, some of which required a speedy response. In carrying out my duties I was occasionally challenged by security staff and/or members of the public concerned by the fact that I was making notes and logging information. My reaction was positive and cooperative.


    February 24, 2011 at 11:24 am

  140. None of the alleged hooligans are doing anything remotely violent. Pal of mine who lives in Befordshire was ironically amused and regaled me with tale, not for first time;Summer 1963 trainspotting nr Bridego Bridge, Cheddington watched group of men checking rail line and taking photos…oops, they were some of the infamous Great Train Robbers.


    February 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

  141. With everything which seems to be developing within this particular subject matter, a significant percentage of viewpoints are actually fairly refreshing. However, I beg your pardon, because I do not subscribe to your entire theory, all be it radical none the less. It looks to us that your remarks are actually not entirely rationalized and in actuality you are your self not really completely certain of the point. In any case I did take pleasure in looking at it.

    Jimmy Bloomingdale

    July 29, 2011 at 5:15 am

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  144. […] nomination was made on the strength of this post and its 147 comments, I’ve emailed the organisers to thank them but sadly I will not be able […]

  145. […] everywhere. Cars tagged and tracked on the major roads around London. More and more people behaving paranoid whenever someone pulls out a […]

  146. […] Pendant ce temps, les témoignages d'abus se multiplient : Heavy-handed policing against photographers caught on video Another video journalist stopped at Greek protest The photograph that terrorized London Innocent photographer or terrorist? You Can't Picture This radio for back up Sex pictures shock! […]

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