More Photographer Harassment From Your Friendly UK Security Guards

Middlesbrough cops, goons and clerks grab and detain photographer for shooting on a public street – Boing Boing

Boing Boing posts on a recent account by Lawrence Windrush of his unfortunate run in with UK security guards.

“They then said photographing shops was illegal and this was private land. I was angry at being grabbed by this man so i pushed him away, one of the men wearing a BARGAIN MADNESS shirt twisted my arm violently behind my back, i winced in pain and could hardly breathe in agony.

A policewomen was radioed and came over to question the two suspects ( the total detaining us had risen to seven, a large crowd had now gathered)
The detaining guard released me, i asked the policewoman if my friend and i could be taken away from the six guards, she motioned us to a nearby seat and told all the security people to go. She took our details, name, address, date of birth etc. She wanted to check my camera saying it was unlawful to photograph people in public, i told her this was rubbish. we agreed to come with her and we sat in the back of a police car, she radioed back to the station to check our details, i explained to her the law regarding photography and handed over a MOO card, i asked to take her picture and she said no. We were free to go with no charge.”

Photography is not a crime.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Man, some people on the street don’t want to have their picture taken. Is it that tough to understand? I’ve seen bunches of your shots that are of complete strangers, who probably had no idea they were being photographed, had no idea those photos were being published, and would probably be aghast to find out both of those things had happened without their knowledge.

    It’s common decency. Photography isn’t a punk rock movement, so stop pretending like it is.

  2. TranceMist says:


    I hope the guards are dully shamed by this exposure.

  3. tomh says:

    These situations keep hitting the news, but it never gets any less infuriating. Is it me or does it seem like police in the U.S. just don’t care what the law says, while police in the U.K. seem to just plain misunderstand it?

  4. Nick P says:

    It definitely getting worse over here in the UK of late. If things continue as they are then I an see it getting to a boiling point one way or another.

    Several people I know have now been stopped and questioned by police in the last few months and I’ve aware of many that have written to MPs complaining about the situation and asking for clarification on the law.

    And as for “Anonymous” above… if you’d bothered to read the post you would have seen that the issue is not people complaining about having their photo taken, but about police and security guards misunderstanding the law around the rights of photographers. If you don’t like having your photo taken, then fine. Tell me and I’ll stop. But don’t get security staff.police to tell me its illegal to take photos when its not.

  5. Bushi says:

    I’m not sure I understand why the guards where not charged with assault and or battery and unlawful detention/kidnapping.

    You can’t grab other private citizens because you ‘think’ they are breaking a law… maybe security guards standing is different in the UK though.

  6. Sam says:

    I’m not a lawyer so dont use this as legal advice, and this was in the UK so things could be vastly different from how I see it but:

    These guys look like they were in an open air mall on private property. If that’s the case the Security Guards CAN ask you to not take pictures and CAN eject you from the premises if you fail to comply.

    You are of course free to not shop there if you disagree with this policy but it is within their rights to have this very stupid anti-consumer policy.

  7. tomh says:

    Privacy and public spaces are mutually exclusive… is that so hard to understand? If you can be that perturbed about having your photo snapped on the street then you might be granting a bit too much control over your personal emotional well-being to uncontrollable outside forces, not limited to photography.

    Secondly, “not wanting to have your picture taken” is not even close to being in the same ballpark as any reason, were there any, that might be good enough to warrant such an infringement on personal liberties. What you see as a trivial enforcement of your own personal preferences would actually have serious, dire consequences for freedom of speech.

    Ultimately the judgment call is up to the photographer. If I were respectfully asked not to publish someone’s photo, I would oblige regardless of the fact that I am not required to do so.

  8. tomh says:

    As an addendum to my last comment, I personally hate having my picture taken. However being a photographer, I would find it much more difficult to think about the hypocrisy of being one who doesn’t want others to take his photo, so I deal with it. And if someone else snaps my photo and sees it as art, more power to them. My life goes on.

  9. Is there anyway to educate law enforcement personnel on laws regarding photography? I am just starting out in learning photography but am dumbfounded in seeing and hearing about events like this.”camera don’t kill people, people kill people” 🙂

  10. Hi again Thomas et als. –

    I am with the people who say we really ought not photograph people without their permission. However, I think the point is that it’s not illegal.

    Here in the states it’s explicit in legal precedent that being in a public place gives you no “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

    Anything visible from a public place is fair game, in my view.

    And I’m not trying to be spammy, but in an effort to keep the whole thing alive, please check out my encounter in San Antonio where I was threatened with arrest, harassed, and well-intimidated:

    Photographer harassment in San Antonio.

    Keep it up, TH.


  11. brendadada says:

    Thomas, Windrush is a well known public menace in and around Middlesbrough.

    He blocks people’s paths and follows them, intruding as they go about their business. It’s aggressive, and intimidating. He then goes on to publish their photographs and ridicule them.

    The people Lawrence stalks are mostly poor, from a multi-deprived town and are often overweight and/or elderly.

    I’m not surprised this hasn’t happened months ago. If Windrush comes anywhere near me or my family with his camera, I will call the police.

    My blog post:

  12. PhotoPaul80 says:

    Irrespective of whether this individual is a public menace or not it is unfair to assume however that may not be your own personal opinion, to label other photographers by that standard. He is obviously a person of little character to do that to people if what you say is true Brendadada, but that stigmatises people like me who enjoy street photography. I live in London and it is harder to take an image of someone you don’t know, but I do ask first and go with their decision. My own run-ins with security are to with their assumption that I am in the wrong regardless of whether thats the case or not. If I’m on private land and don’t realise and I am asked to leave I will. If I am on public land and a security guard gets aggressive with me because he thinks the law gives hime the right to do so, I hand them a letter I have from the Home Office/House of Commons that sets it straight (but with some arguement mostly).

    The Law expressly indicates that there is no provision in the law that makes it illegal to photograph in public and there is no presumption of privacy on the part of the public. But as photographers we should hold this law as fact and stand by it, but be respectful of those we take images of that way we will rise above such opinions cast upon us. As for Lawrence, if thats the person we are led to believe he is then he should puy down his camera and stick to a day job.



  13. viviane says:

    I am a keen photographer visiting my daughter in the UK.
    We went to the HMV shop in Leamington and I took a picture of the glass roof of the mall…no people in it! It did not look like I expected so I deleted it.
    After this I went into the HMV and was stopped by the police telling me they have been poned up by security and told me it was illegal to take a picture of the glass roof outside the shop.?????
    I am Dutch, a tourist…no warnings or anything….
    Police was not rude or anything but it was very embarrassing …Later the security guy from HMV came after me twice to appologise and I asked him to leave me alone since I really had enough of it.
    My husband and daughter were really surprised too…is this how to treat tourists?
    I am in my 50s…I am not a treath I guess…never done something wrong…???
    I am really shocked and I will never ever buy something in that shop again!