Banned, pictures of children!
Tommy Trumpets council censorship!
These are the pictures that South Tyneside Council tried to ban.
I’ve been a big fan of Tommy’s Parties in South Shields, ever since “Junior” was around three or four years old, they are great fun, excellent free entertainment, and continue to attract visitors to South Tyneside on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of August. However, today’s party will be the last that I will attend until certain people within the employ of South Tyneside Council decide to learn a little about the laws in this country, or more likely, a senior officer decides to issue new stringent guidelines to council employees about what rights they have to ask people to stop taking photographs in public places! (None at all, in general).
I now believe (after a number of similar incidents over the past three years) that a policy or guideline is in place which advises event staff to approach male photographers and ask them to put cameras away when there are children present! Today I was approached by “Carrie”, one of Tommy’s helpers at the event and I was asked to refrain from photographing any children, unless they were my own, I was told that a number of complaints had been raised by parents!
I stated that I was following a perfectly legal pursuit in a public place and that I worked hard to promote the best interests and attractions in South Shields via my websites, offered her my card, and opined that this was not the place nor time to debate the issue (why create a furore at Tommy’s Party?) She conceded that she couldn’t make me stop but “that I have to ask you to, in order to protect the children”.
Protect the children? What from?
Some perverted bloke with a big camera and a big lens no doubt!
Who is giving this advice to council staff at public events I wonder?
“Carrie” told me that there has “been a bit of fuss in the press about these things”
“Yes”, I replied, “and it was me who raised the fuss”.
I decided to leave as I already had enough pictures, and on the way out I asked if it was possible to meet some of the parents who had complained –
“Oh, err, they didn’t actually complain to me, it was to one of the other staff” she said,
“Oh well, can I talk to them instead?”
didn’t think so
“I guess that means I’ll be on your website tonight then” said “Carrie”
Too darn right dear.
Some questions about this prohibition
- How many women are asked to put cameras away?
- Why do people with camera phones never get stopped?
- Why do people with pocket cameras never get challenged?
- Why do we never stop press photographers from recording public events?
- What is the danger to children in showing the world what Tommy’s Parties are like?
- Why was I stopped from picturing my own children in the Bents park in 2006 by a South Tyneside Council employee?
- Why were notices attached to trees in the Bents Park, South Shields, this year banning the use of cameras, video, recorders, or camera phones for a Cheer Leading event?
- Why did South Tyneside Council try to bluster their way out of that one by claiming it was a private function? (Advertised in the Shields Gazette and in a public park).
- Why 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 operators?
- Why have 240 MPs signed Austin Mitchell’s EDM in the House of Commons reiterating our rights to photograph in or from public places?
- Why do some of us in society see a man with a camera as a grave danger if there happens to be any children within five miles of him?
- Why are 95% of convicted paedophiles well known or related to their victims? (They are seldom strangers.)
- Why has an aggrieved parent never ever approached me to complain or talk about the issue?
- Why are people happy to see their faces in the newspaper or on the TV?
- Why do schools ban photography on their premises then release complete class pictures to the Shields Gazette?
- What will we have to look back upon in 2068 if we carry on banning people men from taking photographs in public?
- Would some people prefer it if all photographers had to be female?
- Isn’t this some form of authoritarian censorship by council employees?
- If these are genuine complaints (and I have my doubts) then why does nobody complain about the hundreds of images taken of them by South Tyneside Council’s CCTV cameras when they are on their way to the amphitheatre?
- When are our local politicians going to grow a spine on this issue?
Today was the last straw, I’ve done some folks some big favours by increasing the world wide exposure for some events around here, I’ve hyped up the good bits about this town that I love, but now and then the warts need to be exposed too.
Until such time as I learn that South Tyneside Council has issued new authoritative guidelines to it’s staff (particularly events staff) that photography in and from public places is perfectly legal, and that they shall not ask photographers to desist, stop, or refrain in any way then I shall not be posting any more of my images in South Shields Daily Photo, the lasting image that people will see and remember will be tomorrow’s! No quibbles, unless council officials put a stop to this silly censorship and allow innocent photographers to enjoy their hobby without harassment, then that is the way that things will remain. A permanent lasting memory to the disjointed thinking, petty bureaucratic, authoritarian, misguided principles that they are operating under and deign to call “child protection”.
If you want to protect children then don’t let them out of doors!
I am hoping that South Tyneside’s Labour Leader (who was within earshot of Tommy’s Party this afternoon) is reading and ready to make a public statement reaffirming the rights of photographers, and how South Tyneside intends to protect those rights.
End of rant.
Photographers are being stopped, and even arrested, for the most ridiculous reasons these days – read this.
Hat Tip – Jailhouse Lawyer
There was also an interesting article in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend illustrating the paranoia that society seems to have about men with cameras, here are a few quotes from the comments:
- Interesting that it’s OK for the state to track citizens with CCTV every minute of the day, but private citizens are deemed suspicious when using a camera. Just as we’re being stripped of our privacy, while the state gets ever more secretive. I fear we have the balance seriously out of kilter.
- Its not just urban. I have been chased and questioned on one occasion, and on another visited at home by police and questioned concerning photographing empty fields in the Duns area, Berwickshire. About as rural as you can get. Learn your rights and stand firm.
- It is extremely sad that people react this way, I fear long gone are the days of Henri Cartier
Bresson, and the honest recording of our lives. Someone presumably those we elect should
take a long hard look at what they and their stupid over zealous laws are doing to our
society. Simpletons (both in uniform or not, whether they “mean well” or not) who have no
idea our people’s rights just jump in with both feet, and by doing so are destroying the
freedoms we are fighting for in Afghanistan and other places around the globe.
How about a little communication, if you are truly worried about what a photographer has
taken, just ask politely, without the heavy handed confrontational attitudes we see all to
Everyone with a camera isn’t a terrorist, or a paedophile, some people actually enjoy taking
photographs as others might enjoy gardening.
Don’t give in to this growing paranoia.
- It would seem that only photographers with
cameras are being targeted by the police & other
security staff, while the thousands taking pictures
on mobile phone go largely unmolested. Since
camera phones are now capable of taking good
quality pictures, I think it unlikely that “paedophiles
& terrorists” would advertise their presence by
wielding large cameras in public places.
Can I recommend reading the full article.
p.s. Let’s not be too harsh on “Carrie”, she was only the messenger.