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’.

  • Tzctplus –

    So? Since when the guard of one premise is responsible for guarding somebody else’s land or property?

  • Tzctplus –

    Then how they can possibly expect that the public know that they are in private land and the rules that they wished to impose?

  • parkylondon

    Given that is the case, then there should be some clear signage to that effect. There wasn’t.

  • KawikaNui

    But he was not on public land. Accuracy, please.

  • KawikaNui

    If it’s private land, they own it, they control it, and they have the right to control what takes place on it. And according to the OP, it was private land. Accuracy, please.

  • KawikaNui

    But he was not on public land. Accuracy, please.

  • Andrew Mark Fishburn

    Sadly, it will become more common, however, we must keep asserting our legal rights.

  • RJM

    As a former police officer, I doubt they’ll be interested anyway. They’re often not attending burglaries so attending such a petty incident is highly unlikely!

  • Kym Crowley

    This really amplifies the stupidity of some people. Terrorism? Seriously? Do these decision makers honestly thnk a terrorist is going to take this approach? Just goes to show that just because you’re a policy maker, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be any good at it. Or sensible. Twits…

  • Kym Crowley

    This really amplifies the stupidity of some people. Terrorism? Seriously? Do these decision makers honestly thnk a terrorist is going to take this approach? Just goes to show that just because you’re a policy maker, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be any good at it. Or sensible. Twits…

  • Ru_Anderson

    An incident must happen at least twice for it to be considered possible harassment.
    IF
    you go back repeatedly having been asked not to – and having been
    informed you are on private land, you are the one most likely to be seen
    as harassing the shopping center. HOWEVER if multiple photographers
    make a complaint to the police that they have been stopped on PUBLIC
    land and asked not to take photos then the complains could be seen as
    evidence of the security company harassing the public.
    Take care
    though. While the “Public land” may not be owned by the shopping center it
    may well be owned by the council or some other legal body. You could
    find yourself being banned from the town center in total. Many town
    centers are now NOT public spaces but are privately owned and
    technically right of access can be withdrawn at an time.

  • parkylondon

    And they will get told EXACTLY where they can go. Public land is public land and (except in the very rarest of circumstances) we can take picture of whatever we want. I had a Section 44 some years ago and I am still angry about it.

  • Barney Terrence Francis

    Try checking the land registry regarding ownership of the land!!

  • Barney Terrence Francis

    Try checking the land registry regarding ownership of the land!!

  • Bob Riach

    I mentioned to the management the next day about signs and they said they didn’t want to put signs up

  • Colin Leck

    Hmmm, that maybe their “get out of jail card”. But even so…if they do not have any signs…I’d claim ignorance…EVERYTIME, get my shots, and move on…

  • Bob Riach

    the path around the shopping centre is owned by them so they told me I was on their land

  • Jonathan Smith

    Take the security guards name and that of his employer. Inform the police and then employ a solicitor to sue both guard and employer for harrassment. The police cannot stop you photographing on public land, a private security firm certainly cannot.

  • Colin Leck

    Bob, you are operating within the law. You CAN take photographs of almost any building in the UK, for non commercial gain, from public land, without having to explain yourself to anyone. They CANNOT stop you, and I suggest, you ask them to call the Police if they wish to take the matter further. Even IF they call the Police, the Police must have a very good reason to ask you to stop taking pictures whilst on public land. The cannot touch, remove or delete any of your equipment or images without you being placed under arrest, and a court order being issued allowing them to delete specific images.

    My suggestion is to keep going back, night after night after night.

  • kevin rudeforth

    it is unnecessary and outside of any law, it is harassment, and that is a crime.

  • Bob Riach

    I still say this is unnecessary I was only taking a photo of a shopping centre