Picture credit: Garry Chinchen
Police banned a photographer from taking pictures of people on a jet ski and threatened to arrest him despite an officer admitting the images he had taken were perfectly lawful.
Keen photographer Garry Chinchen was left stunned when police threatened to arrest him yesterday for ‘breach of the peace’.
Garry, who was using a Nikon D200 and 17-200mm lens, said his photo session had turned into a ‘bit of a disaster’.
Garry had stopped in a lay-by after seeing a picture opportunity at Glyn Neath Lakes – a watersports centre adjacent to the A465 in South Wales.
He said he had been taking photos from a public area for ‘ten minutes’ when a man claiming to be the lake’s landowner approached. ‘A guy came over and said “stop photographing the children,”‘ said Garry. ‘He said you need permission to take photographs of children.’
The photos sent to Amateur Photographer (AP), clearly taken from a distance, show a man and a boy on the back of a jet ski, both dressed in wetsuits.
The man then complained to police who arrived shortly afterwards. ‘They checked the images on the camera. They were fine. He [the officer] then phoned my employer.’
Police had demanded identification and asked for details of Garry’s employers, a nearby foster carer agency.
Officers also ran his name through a police computer database.
‘Everything checked out fine,’ said Garry who had taken the pictures for his own portfolio and said he did not plan to publish any of them.
The officer then told Garry: ‘If you take another picture you will be arrested for, at the least, breach of the peace [under the Public Order Act].’
AP understands that concerns had been raised because there were children changing, into wetsuits, near the lake which is used for ‘youth engagement activity’.
However, Garry told us that he was not aware of children changing nearby. He said he could only see the lake and the treeline from where he was standing.
Garry added that, at the time, this matter had not been raised by the landowner, or the police officer who was called to the scene.
None of the images that Garry showed to police contain children changing.
At the time of writing, South Wales Police had yet to clarify whether the officer had communicated the exact nature of the landowner’s concern to the photographer.
They deny that the officer had overreacted.
We understand, from a source close to the case, that had Garry been allowed to continue taking pictures this would have been viewed as ‘inflammatory behaviour’ against the complainant.
In an official statement, a South Wales Police spokesman said: ‘We were called by the landowner of Glyneath lakes [sic] following concern of a photographer taking photos of a child on a jet ski.
‘The officer carried out all the necessary checks on this person and no offences were disclosed. The photographer was appropriately advised regarding his conduct.’
Garry now fears he will be arrested if he is seen taking any more pictures in public. ‘You can’t take a picture of anything really,’ he told us. ‘It was very confusing and quite worrying.’
To add insult to injury, Garry said he later received a call from his employer who was concerned having been contacted by police earlier in the day.
A police source claimed that Garry had been ‘very argumentative and defensive in providing his details’.
Glyn Neath Lakes had yet to respond to our request for comment at the time of writing.