An 80-year-old photography enthusiast has told of his shock after police urged him to delete an image of a child playing on a bungee trampoline inside a shopping centre.
Mike O’Regan (pictured above) had been taking pictures while waiting for his wife inside the Westfield Centre in Derby on Easter Saturday (19 April).
A woman identifying herself as the boy’s mother objected and complained to the mall’s security guards, who alerted police.
O’Regan told Amateur Photographer (AP): ‘I used my [Samsung Galaxy S4] phone to take a shot of an ingenious bungee/trampoline device for children…
‘I took three shots in quick succession, all showing the complete trampoline apparatus, and the same small boy strapped into it.
‘It then transpired that a lady had complained to two security guards that I had taken a shot of her son.’
A Derbyshire Police spokeswoman yesterday told AP that O’Regan – who says the boy was fully-clothed – agreed to delete the photo when asked by officers, though he had not broken any laws.
O’Regan says guards prevented him from leaving the scene until police officers arrived but did not explain why he had been stopped.
‘I was not physically touched by the security guards, but when I made a move to find my wife (who was in M&S) they moved in to block my way.’
O’Regan said two police officers arrived around 30 minutes later, took down his name and address and insisted he erase the ‘offending’ shot from his phone.
In the end, he erased all three.
‘I found this episode both upsetting and embarrassing,’ said O’Regan who lives in Toton, Nottinghamshire and has been a keen photo enthusiast for more than 60 years.
‘The attitude of all those involved was not what an 80-year-old should have to endure.’
O’Regan added: ‘I was so shocked that I didn’t think to take any badge numbers of either the security guards or policewomen.’
A spokeswoman for the mall, which has since become part of property group Intu, told AP there are signs at entrances about photography.
O’Regan does not recall seeing any notices.
In a statement, Intu Derby added: ‘Staff acted according to Westfield’s policies, who were the owner and manager at the time.
‘Child protection is, of course, our number one priority but we also support families’ right to take photographs of their loved ones and our photography and filming policies reflect this.
‘We are currently training all our staff at the centre on Intu’s policies and procedures, including those around photography.’
Derbyshire Police said in a statement: ‘A complaint had been made to security staff regarding a man taking photographs inside the centre.
‘Officers attended and spoke to the man and asked him to delete one of several images he had taken.
‘This was done on the request of a woman whose son appeared in the picture.
‘The man deleted the image as requested. No offences took place.’
The force says it works closely with the centre’s staff and security personnel to ‘ensure the safety of the centre and its customers’.
In 2011, the UK Government issued anti-terror guidance to the private security industry after photographers mounted a nationwide campaign to stop guards acting overzealously.
The Home Office urged the security industry to follow the guidance, though adoption of the rules was not compulsory.