AP INVESTIGATES – Photographers can expect to be quizzed by private security even if they take photographs while standing on public land, warns a shopping mall at the centre of a rights storm.

Photo credit: Bob Riach

The alert, to amateurs and professionals, came after Amateur Photographer (AP) asked the Princes Quay shopping centre in Hull to elaborate on a statement it sent the magazine in the wake of a controversial stop of a photographer, last month, amid terrorism fears.

Amateur photographer Bob Riach was stopped by a private security guard outside Princes Quay shopping centre on 23 October. He had been taking night-time shots from a paved area outside the building – land the shopping centre said it owned.

A Princes Quay statement on the incident, sent to AP, reads: ‘The safety and security of our visitors and staff at Princes Quay shopping centre is paramount.

‘Our policy, which is enforced by our security team, is that no one should take photographs or shoot film footage within or around the centre without the permission of centre management.’

Amateur Photographer then asked the centre to clarify what it defines as ‘around the centre’, given that photographers have a legal right to take photographs from public land.

In response, a Princes Quay spokeswoman said: ‘You are correct in your comment regarding photos being taken from public land.

‘We would suggest standing on Princes Dock Street or Waterhouse Lane if anyone is wanting to take any photographs.

‘However, even though, in this way, photographers would be on public land, our security team may still approach people taking photography [sic] and find out why they are doing so, as the safety and security of our visitors is of paramount importance to us.’

In response to the centre’s stance, Riach said today: ‘I could understand this approach if the subject of the photo was a military property, an oil refinery, airport or property of a sensitive nature.

‘I could also understand this if the photographer was acting suspiciously and may be hiding while taking a photo.

‘After all, this is a shopping centre they have made to look attractive to photographers by surrounding it with water, and adding a water feature.

‘They should have signs saying “no photos or video”. This would save any embarrassment to members of the public taking photos.

‘I did mention this to the security manager. However, she said they did not want to put up signs.’

Last week, photographers gathered outside the shopping centre to stage a peaceful protest over the issue.

In August, the threat level to the UK from international terrorism was raised from ‘Substantial’ to ‘Severe’, which means that the threat from a terrorist attack is considered to be ‘highly likely’.

On Friday, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office updated its travel advice to reflect ‘a heightened threat of terrorism globally’.

Speaking shortly after he was stopped, Riach said the guard told him: ‘You are not allowed to take photographs of this building. We are on “security level 3”.’

The photographer said the guard specifically referred to concerns over an attack from the terror group ‘Isis’.