Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

South Shields premier political blog

Banned, pictures of children!

with 27 comments

Tommy's Party, South Shields

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,

Sure, sure,

“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.

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Written by curly

August 19, 2008 at 7:32 pm

27 Responses

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  1. It’s all nonce-sense.


    August 19, 2008 at 7:50 pm

  2. Hoe bloody hoe, somebody needs to seek protection for the rest of you out there with a camera.


    August 19, 2008 at 8:05 pm

  3. […] Original post by curly […]

    Curly’s Corner Shop

    August 19, 2008 at 9:00 pm

  4. Curly, you have been treated disgracefully. I intend to persue this issue.

    David Potts

    August 19, 2008 at 10:27 pm

  5. persue= pursue; from the Old French “pursuer”. Not the first time that this contributor has made this error.


    August 19, 2008 at 11:47 pm

  6. […] See this post in my main blog. […]

  7. This really is outrageous.


    August 20, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  8. i got asked to stop taking a photo of MY daughter at the customs house
    only for the gazette photographer to continue clicking away
    did i stop
    did i hell


    August 20, 2008 at 6:07 pm

  9. Hi Curly!
    I truly understand your rage! I think it’s just too ad that people (men) can’t take photos of children without being thought of as some kind of perverts. Doesn’t it say more about the people themselves?
    As a mother of two I would never object to somebody – male or female – in a public place taking pictures of them.

    Anyway -just wanted to show my support!



    August 20, 2008 at 6:15 pm

  10. That is just ridiculous! Taking photos – general photos – in public places is perfectly legal in the UK last time I checked. It’s only not allowed if one focuses the lens on one particular child. Really sorry you had this predicament. Would be a shame if you never posted another photo on South Shields Daily Photo.


    August 20, 2008 at 10:05 pm

  11. Just found your blog today but I must say how appalled I am at the way you have been treated, in my opinion it is now getting beyond a joke. I have read quite a bit about this problem in the press and in magazines.

    I am female but I am very aware of taking photographs with children in it, (if you visit my blog you will see a photo of children I took at a fete, I avoided taking the photo with their faces showing). I also tend to use a compact camera when out and about in town. I didn’t dare take my SLR with me on a recent visit to London.

    I hope you will continue to post photos on South Shields Daily Photo I wouldn’t like to think THEY have won!


    August 20, 2008 at 10:50 pm

  12. Good luck in getting some satisfaction on this.
    It’s the same here in the US, depending on the town you’re in. I get very nasty looks just looking at trains & stations that I want to photograph.
    Good luck!


    August 20, 2008 at 11:12 pm

  13. Here in Oz, this woman blogger was asked to put her camera away when she was photographing her great-niece & great-nephew having a ball in the children’s creative play at Brisbane City Library earlier this year.There were other children present whose parents had not given permission for them to be “photographed” was what I was told. I replied that i wasn’t taking pictures of the other children, just our’s, who were having their first visit to ‘a big city’. I was told it was ‘policy’. This madness is everywhere…. we are all assumed to be there for nasty reasons, & not given the opportunity to prove otherwise.


    August 20, 2008 at 11:40 pm

  14. Ridiculous. If people don’t want photos taken of children, then the children shouldn’t be out in public where anyone and everyone can view them.


    August 21, 2008 at 1:11 am

  15. What an outrageous turn of events! Just today a friend and I were talking, here in Southern California, about the ability to take a picture of anyone who is in a public place.

    Sarah A

    August 21, 2008 at 1:51 am

  16. Oh well, not again…. I’m really sorry for you, Curly.


    August 21, 2008 at 5:56 am

  17. Were you wearing a Gazette badge around your neck the parents would have been pushing their kids towards you for a picture!

    You can understand parents being a little unnerved in today’s paranoid society though and for that reason I think you did the right thing to ask to speak to the parents. If any had spoken to you and found out your intention I think things would have turned out differently.

    It does seem like the council is doing what the rest of the country is doing by acting out of fear rather than common sense.

    Regardless of the above, the law protects you and I’d like to see what they could do to force your hand.

    I hope to see the photo blog running again soon!

    Mike Smith

    August 21, 2008 at 9:06 am

  18. Curly : Have you asked the Leader of the Council what he thinks?
    By the way, I support you 100%.


    August 21, 2008 at 2:09 pm

  19. […] Head of Cultural Services this afternoon, following the world wide protests that erupted after this post and this picture appearing in South Shields Daily […]

  20. […] Head of Cultural Services this afternoon, following the world wide protests that erupted after this post and this picture appearing in South Shields Daily […]

    Curly’s Corner Shop

    August 21, 2008 at 6:29 pm

  21. Stop taking pictures of kids then you fool. If you wanted to show pictures of Tommy’s party, why didn’t you take the pictures when he was on stage alone. I think any parent has the right to feel nervous if they see a 65+ year old looking man taking photos of small children.


    August 21, 2008 at 7:57 pm

  22. I think you need to see the bigger picture sir/madam, and also try and appreciate what South Shields Daily Photo attempts to do for this town. Do you want to live in a world which has no pictures of children, a world which pretends they don’t exist?

    Anyway see my latest post on common sense.


    August 21, 2008 at 8:16 pm

  23. I do hope your honor and your blog reputation are not hurt by this standoff…Good luck from Barbara in West Sacramento.


    August 22, 2008 at 12:07 am

  24. Hi Curly – you know my views on this from previous posts. I’m 100% on your side. I only have one solution. Leave the UK. This will free you not only from this petty useless pointless brainless attitude towards personal liberties (and community support in your case)


    August 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm

  25. “Stop taking pictures of kids then you fool. If you wanted to show pictures of Tommy’s party, why didn’t you take the pictures when he was on stage alone. I think any parent has the right to feel nervous if they see a 65+ year old looking man taking photos of small children.”

    To this idiot. You’ve somehow swallowed the myth that everyone over a certain age interested in children other than their own wants to molest them! A myth perpetuated by the constant reporting, and then reactionary activity by the government. If we reported all the non-criminal interactions between different generations then the pedophile news would be what? 0.001% perhaps?

    Apparently the majority of that kind of thing actually happens within peoples own families. You’d be very unlucky to suffer at the hands of a stranger.

    The whole ‘risk to children’ agenda, is not only ruining the ability of adults to interact with children. It is also spoiling the lifes of children, who are, seemingly not allowed to go and play outside alone in some cases.

    Now, I agree, there may be some parents worried by the activity. I suspect those parents don’t have a balanced view of the risks. Perhaps they’d be better off talking to the photographer in this case?

    You should be ashamed of your comment. It was barely worthy of the Daily Mail.


    August 24, 2008 at 11:19 am

  26. Quite so, thank you Dave.


    August 24, 2008 at 11:29 am

  27. […] Banned, pictures of children […]

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