A photographer says he was left humiliated and feeling like a criminal after police ordered him to delete his pictures – telling him he first needed permission before taking photographs.
The incident, which occurred in the seaside resort of Blackpool, Lancashire, is the latest in a spate of clashes between police officers and photographers taking pictures in public places in the UK.
Amateur photographer John Kelly claims a police community support officer (PCSO) ordered him to delete pictures, which included the officer in the frame.
Kelly told us that the PCSO then added: ?You can?t take pictures of people without asking their permission.?
The enthusiast insists that all the images which included the PCSO were ?long distance landscape shots?, only showing the officer in the background of the frame.
The 54-year-old had been planning to enter his street scenes into a photography competition when he was stopped in the town centre around midday on Friday 8 February. He had been using a Nikon D40 digital SLR, a non-professional level camera.
?Blackpool is one of the top tourist destinations in the UK and being told by someone who represents the law that I can?t take photographs in the town without asking permission is bizarre,? Kelly told us.
Kelly is studying a photography course at Blackpool and The Fylde college and had been on a mission to capture shots for entry into a competition entitled ?Blackpool Life?, organised by Blackpool Council?s Adult and Community Learning Services department.
?The community support officer asked me what I was taking photographs of, and I explained to her about the college course. ?She said I had no right to take photographs of people without their permission and insisted that I delete any images of herself immediately.?
Kelly is so incensed about the matter he has written to Michael Jack – MP for Fylde, Lancashire.
A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary was not immediately available for comment when we contacted the force about the incident this morning.
Kelly added: ?Shoppers had stopped to watch what was going on and I felt that I had done something wrong – and shocked at being challenged in this way. I proceeded to show her the images? and as she said delete, I did so to avoid further embarrassment.?
Picture (above): Amateur photographer John Kelly said he was not aware that this shot had remained in his camera after police ordered him to delete his pictures
Picture (above): Captured previously, one of the images from John Kelly’s portfolio which did not attract police attention in Blackpool