An amateur photographer banned from taking pictures of emergency services attending a cricket club fire – on grounds of ?national security? – appears to have done nothing wrong, police admit.
David Clifford from Pinner in Middlesex said he was accosted while taking snaps following an alleged arson attack on the pavilion at nearby Hatch End Cricket Club on 14 June.
?I was ordered by a police officer to stop taking photographs of the emergency vehicles,? David told us. ?When I queried this she [the officer] stated that I am not allowed to take photos of any fire or police vehicles or personnel because of national security.?
David said that the fire engines were about 80-100 yards from where he was and the police vehicle some 30-40 yards away.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police, today described the officer?s action as ?inappropriate?. She told Amateur Photographer magazine: ?There is absolutely no reason why a cricket club would be a ?sensitive location?.
The Met spokeswoman admitted that an officer?s lack of knowledge of photographers? rights is behind such incidents.
She explained that there are only a couple of situations where officers would ask that no photographs are taken. Firstly, if fire chiefs ask police to keep the public at bay because photos may cause distress to any victims (in which case police would ?request? the photographer stops).
And, secondly if the fire service asks people to stay away from the immediate area on safety grounds. ?That shouldn?t preclude them taking photographs from a distance,? added the spokeswoman.
Also, if police set up a cordon, members of the public would be required to stay behind the barrier. However, it is understood that, at the time David took his pictures, there was no such cordon.
No-one was hurt in the blaze which police believe was started by local youths.
David said he was so angry he left the scene before he was able to take down the officer?s details.