A man taking photos of a fish tank was stopped by a security guard who was supposed to be alert for u2018hostile reconnaissanceu2019 amid pre-Olympics terrorism fears.

John Harrington said he was with his family when a security official prevented him taking pictures of one of the aquariums inside the O2 Centre, a shopping and leisure complex in north-west London.

‘The security guard had a pop at me. He said it was against the law to take pictures in here,’ Harrington told Amateur Photographer (AP).

‘He was aggressive about it… I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t as if I was a terrorist.’

The photography enthusiast – who keeps fish at home – was using a Nikon D300S DSLR, and a 24mm lens.

He said there were no signs warning against photography at the centre.

The guard told him: ‘If you do it again, you are out.’

Harrington was not using a flash, nor a tripod, when he was stopped on Saturday afternoon.

‘It’s the first time anything like this has happened and I’ve been living in London for 30 years,’ said Harrington who is originally from west Cork in Ireland.

‘They are intimidating all the wrong people,’ he told AP.

Jason King, manager of the O2 Centre on Finchley Road, NW3, admitted: ‘People should not be getting stopped for doing that [taking pictures of a fish tank].

‘If photos are for personal use, that’s fine.

‘If they are of the building’s infrastructure, we will stop photographers as part of our security procedures.

‘We have a duty to prevent hostile reconnaissance, particularly in the run-up to the Olympics.’

NEWS UPDATE: The O2 Centre has blamed the incident on a possible

case of mistaken identity. Management say three people were seen taking

photographs at the time. A cleaner contacted security after one was seen

taking pictures of the ‘atrium’ from an escalator, images that the

building’s security team would class as suspicious. It seems that the

guard, arriving late on the scene, then approached the wrong

photographer – targeting the person carrying the ‘bigger camera’,

according to O2 Centre manager Jason King. ‘It seems the guard assumed

it was the same person. It was an assumption he shouldn’t have made,’

said King.

[Original article continues from here]

King, a keen photographer himself, said that security personnel have been briefed on the centre’s photographic policy.

He said there were three guards on duty at the time.

Though King insisted there has been no change in the rules ahead of London 2012, he said the Olympics are a ‘consideration’.

He plans to brief the centre’s security staff about the incident.

Harrington said he may lodge a complaint against the 02 Centre management.

The 02 Centre is owned by UK commercial property giant, Land Securities.


Photography on underground set for outright ban

Click HERE for details of AP’s 2-in-1 Photographers’ Rights Lens Cloth, which will be given away free with the issue dated 2 June 2012, outlining your rights when taking photographs in public and private spaces

  • Nelly

    No surprise, they employ poeple and put them into a uniform and fail to properly brief them, assuming a modicum of common sense…

    I visited a location outside of London yesterday, they were preparing a command location and response centre, and an evac. hospital, if I’d tried to take photo’s I’d have breeched the OSA and as it’s MoD property I’d now be locked up. But fish tanks in the O2, stupid. If anyone’s going to do recon. google and flickr would provide much more detail than a single camera user could ever capture!

    Trained ‘operators’ don’t need a camera, their own eye’s, memory and a sketch pad after are more than enough.

  • Michael Preston

    More paranoid idiocy from people who are actually entrusted, supposedly, with our safety.

    Do I feel safe knowing that numbnuts like these people are ‘taking care’ of security? In a word, no.

    Do I think that frankly the mythical war on terrorism* is being used as a prop for anyone in authority to hassle anyone who they deem worthy of their attention? In a word, yes.

    *Who exactly is a terrorist? Who’s not? Who decides and how did we decide that they were the right person for the job? Since the nature of what consitutes a terrorist act is a matter of perspective and fairly dependent on where you live in the world, who exactly is responsible for deciding when the ‘war’ is won? Or for that matter when we’ve lost it?

    Or is this just a flimsy device being used by the appartus of the state (from the defence forces through to the police through to security personnel) to harrass (and sometime kill) anyone who’s activities threaten those who are in power? In a word, yes.

    I think it’s high time that we called it as it is rather than all just trooping along in unison accepting that this is in any way a genuine ‘war’. It’s not.

  • Toby

    This article relates the hostile and aggressive approach of the security guard. However, the lens cloths being given away next week by AP both encourage us to use cooperation with police and security. This needs to be offered on both sides. Given that a security guard ha no more power than one of us, it should be made clear that if you are approached by someone who is not a police officer, and you perceive a threat of harm to yourself, family or camera, then you are allowed by law to use reasonable force to negate that threat.

  • Simon Richards

    How stupid.

    Do they really think terrorists would be obvious when taking pictures?