Police have declined to release a recording of a complaint made about the behaviour of two photographers, despite claims that an off-duty officer triggered the phone call.

Amateur Photographer (AP) asked Surrey Police to make a recording of the phone call available to help clarify the chain of events that led to uniformed officers attending the scene on Guildford High Street on 27 June.

However, the force has told AP that it is unable to release a recording of the conversation, for data protection reasons.

Photographer Don Morley said that uniformed officers told him and his friend, Bernard Lockley, they had been alerted to the incident by two off-duty policemen.

Officers quizzed the pair over fears, later shown to be misplaced, that they had captured indecent photographs of a child.

Morley, 76, said uniformed police told them they had ‘been reported by their off-duty colleagues as being under suspicion of taking indecent images’.

Lockley, 79, accuses the off-duty officers of behaving like ‘agent provocateurs’, sparking the call by first approaching the child’s family.

But police maintain that a call was made, independently, by a woman expressing concern about two men photographing her grandson.

One of the off-duty officers is understood to have asked Morley to delete an image of the boy, even though it broke no law.

Officers who reviewed the digital images concluded that the photographers – left shocked by the experience – were innocent of any wrongdoing.

By chance, the drama was witnessed by a passing lawyer.

Morley asserts that, from inspecting the EXIF data embedded in the

file of the controversial image, he captured it at 12.39pm – 11 minutes

before the time police gave for the complaint being made.

Asked if it was possible to release a recording of the initial complaint, a Surrey Police spokesperson told AP: ‘We are unable to release calls made to our control room for data protection reasons.

‘I have spoken to the other off-duty officer who was involved in the incident and our statement remains unchanged.’

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  • Jenny Lynn Walker

    This exact same situation happened to myself in my home town a few months ago. Two officers appeared from “nowhere” in a police car, jumped out, made a bee-line for me and arrested me for no reason at all. They said they had received a phone call from someone and needed to respond to the call. I had been taking photographs in my local area along the beach front that day. One of the officers was angry and threatening, demanded to look through my photographs and although I asked to be taken to the station to make a statement as I told them I had every right to be taking photographs on the street, they refused. Instead they arrested me, forced me to sit in the back of their police car and refused to let me take the name of witnesses to the incident as well. I asked to take the name of two witnesses on the street to the incident – they refused.
    After they looked through all the images (only about 20-30 of which I had taken that day but they looked at every single image), then they said it was a mistake (there was nothing among the images that could possibly have offended anyone).

  • Joe Hargreaves, Preston, UK

    closed ranks, they do what they want, then hide behind their law

  • John Nevill

    They can easily release a redacted transcipt of this call without breaching Data Protection legislation.

  • Dave Tucker

    So all they have to do is release the time and date the call was received! That will not contravene the Data Protection Act.
    By their actions it appears that the police are protecting one of their own after he has made a major mistake. The IPC can be contacted by the photographers if they believe they have a valid complaint and the police are closing ranks.

  • Stephen Ashton

    I wonder how the shots could be “indecent” if they were taken in a public space? And I am happy to be told otherwise, but surely unless the recording identifies the people concerned, the Data Protection Act does not apply?