Photographers and the law not clear cut, say police

May 19, 2011

Rights WatchA man was accused of harassment, and police were called, after he was seen taking photographs of a friend?s house.

Police were alerted after David Murray was seen taking pictures of the house in Chesterfield, Derbyshire after a boundary dispute between his friend and the person who lived in a neighbouring property.

‘A friend asked me to take photographs of her house, whereupon the stupid neighbour rang five hours later claiming harassment,’ Murray told Amateur Photographer.

‘It is difficult to accept that a person can be harassed by seeing a photograph being taken of their neighbour’s house.’

Though he was not arrested, Murray later complained to Derbyshire Police demanding they provide ?details of the offence I was suspected of committing?.

Not satisfied with the force?s investigation into the incident ? which occurred on 25 June 2009 – Murray then complained to the Professional Standards Department.

In a letter he received last month, the force?s head of Professional Standards, Superintendent Richard Oldknow, said it was a police officer?s duty to investigate any allegation of harassment, to protect the alleged victim from harm.

He added: ?It is not possible to give a categorical statement on the law relating to the taking of photographs.

?Whilst the actual taking of photographs is not a criminal offence, the circumstances or the behaviour of the photographer may raise concerns, founded or otherwise, with members of the public.

?We obviously have a duty to investigate and rely on the goodwill and co-operation of the photographer to establish their bone fides.?

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