Police defend officer in photo fracas (update)
A police community support officer (PCSO) denies ordering a photographer to delete all his pictures, but admits asking him to delete one after he ‘sneaked up’ behind her.
Photo enthusiast John Kelly says he was left humiliated and feeling like a criminal after a PCSO ordered him to delete his pictures – telling him he first needed permission before taking photographs of people in public.
The incident took place in Blackpool, Lancashire on 8 February.
However, today Blackpool police gave the officer’s version of events.
Speaking on behalf of the PCSO, Sergeant Rick Irving told us that the officer claims she requested, rather than demanded, Kelly delete one of his pictures – an image showing the officer in the frame.
‘She is aware that she has no legal right to demand that he delete the photographs,’ Irving told us.
‘She asked him to delete one photograph which he has done. But she says she didn’t ask him to delete any others.’
Irving said that while the officer is aware of a person’s right to take pictures in a public place he said it would have been courteous to ask the PCSO: ‘Look, this is what I am doing – can I take your photograph?’
The unnamed PCSO claims that Kelly was ‘evasive’ when asked to produce identification showing him to be a photographer.
Kelly, an amateur photographer who had been using a non-professional Nikon D40 digital SLR camera, hit back at the police's response to the incident.
'They have tried to make me out as some sort of villain,' he told us this afternoon.
Kelly denies he was being evasive towards the officer.
'She didn't ask me for ID... I explained why I was taking photographs... for a competition.'
Sergeant Irving continued: ‘She [the PCSO] just says his general manner was a little bit strange. She felt a little bit uneasy with the way he was taking a photograph of her.’
When challenged by Amateur Photographer magazine regarding the rights of photographers to take pictures in public, Irving declined to discuss the matter further, stressing that the PCSO did not want to have her picture taken.
‘The fact that you are in a uniform doesn’t really change how you are as a human being… your own personal wish to remain anonymous.’
Irving said the officer concerned will not face disciplinary action as a result of the incident.
Last week we reported that a picture that had inadvertently remained in Kelly’s camera was used by police to help identify the officer at the centre of the controversy.
Kelly is so incensed about the matter he has written to Michael Jack - MP for Fylde, Lancashire.
He tells us that his local television station has used his photos on 14 occasions to accompany weather reports on ITV's Granada Reports programme.