PetaPixel

In the UK, ‘Antisocial’ Photography Can Get You Questioned and Potentially Arrested

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It’s a tale as old as time: 81-year-old photographer in East Sussex takes pictures of bachelorette parties, bachelorette parties don’t seem to mind but strangers call the cops on him, cops say he’s being ‘antisocial’ and ask for his name, he refuses, they threaten to arrest him.

Okay… maybe not as old as time, or even normal, but that’s what happened to one photographer in the UK and it seems the cops may have actually had the right to arrest the man in this particular scenario.

The story above — which is told in full over on Amateur Photographer — involves photographer Richard Selby, and his ‘antisocial’ behavior and refusal to give the police his name almost landed him in jail.

That because, in the UK, Section 50 of the Police Reform Act 2002 states that a person must give police their name and address if an officer believes that a person “has been acting, or is acting, in an antisocial manner”; antisocial being defined as acting in a way that “caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.”

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Taking street photos of bachelorette parties — or ‘hen parties’ as they’re called in the UK — apparently falls under this definition, although the story differs greatly depending on who you ask. Selby will say he was taking normal photographs, while the police’s version of the story seems to describe something much closer to upskirting.

You can read the full story on Amateur Photographer, but the moral is clear. If you’re taking street photos in Brighton, and a cop comes up to you and demands you tell them your name and address, you’d better be ready to talk… otherwise you could end up in handcuffs.

(via The Phoblographer)


Image credits: Photograph of hen party by Declan and picture of a pastry shop in East Sussex by Dominic Alves


 
  • pvbella

    Britain, contrary to popular fiction, is not a free country. Only tyrannies have laws like this? Anti-social and causing distress?

  • Brennus

    If it was a young attractive dude or a girl nobody would mind?

  • Ivor Wilson

    Probably…

  • Wuz nt Me

    Show us your papers!

  • Mike

    Free country? Why does this term even exist?

  • overhere2000

    Seems a bit overboard to target a public street picture. Would hate to try documenting Mardi Gras festivities.

  • gochugogi

    A cute teen with an iPhone snapping away wouldn’t have drawn a second look. The old dude need to learn to be more stealthy, pretend to be taking a selfie or wiping through pics and editing…

  • http://www.markhoustonphotography.com/ mthouston

    “has been acting, or is acting, in an antisocial manner”; antisocial being defined as acting in a way that “caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.”

    That, pretty much describes just about all the artist I know…

  • Chrisski

    he wasnt even arrested

  • ColonelCockman

    What about in public toilets, does that count?

  • ksporry

    couldn’t agree more… democracy is just an illusion of freedom of choice… Reality is we are all slaves to the system.

  • ksporry

    The UK is so uptight when it comes to this stuff. only one person has to declare something anti-social, or whatever, and they make a law that prevents it from happening. “all for the greater good”. So now you live in a society where everything is mandatory and nothing is allowed.
    Of course, if the police asks for ID, that’s the one thing you should not ever deny them, in any country. I have to say, the UK police can be a bit anal, and that’s caused by a society where people in the first place thinks of their own comforts and well being. The dutch police is a lot more social. if you stay friendly and polite, almost always you part with a smile… Except when they need to reach their fine quotum, in which case the dutch police are assholes, and fine you for the slightest thing (this is caused by a greedy government though)

  • Adam McIntyre

    Well, at least he wasn’t shot.

  • http://wildernessvagabonds.com/ Mike Lewinski

    We have too many possible definitions of ‘free’ that are conflated and your point is well taken.

    In the software world we often talk about “free as in free speech” and “free as in free beer”. The former is freedom from political oppression (maybe applicable in this article to some degree), while the latter is more an economic concept.

    I’ve always liked Kris Kristofferson’s line (made famous by Janis Joplin) that “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. Close examination reveals the paradox at the heart of freedom from this perspective. As long as you value your freedom you still have something left to lose.

    It may be unattainable, but in the political sense it is still a worthy goal.

    I’m not sure that being required to provide one’s name on request falls in the realm of tyranny. It may be objectionable for various reasons. It may be a part of a larger autocratic governance.

    When I’m pulled over in my car, I have to produce identification. I’d like to live in a world where there was no reason for anyone to have to show papers. I fear the creeping police state. And, I realize that keeping the peace means holding people accountable for their actions where they infringe on the rights of others.

    In light of the paradox of freedom, it may be necessary to tie some responsibility to the maintenance of freedom itself.

    Free is only as free as you’re willing to stand up and fight for, and no more.

    In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.

    — Edward Gibbon

  • William Lanteigne

    Citizens in the UK are the most-photographed people on the planet. Cameras are everywhere. If you’re in public, you’re being photographed. But somehow it’s different when it’s an actual person taking pictures, not a mindless, soulless mechanism?

  • OtterMatt

    I thought selfies were the only truly “anti-social” form of photography…

  • David Crisp

    Without reading the whole article, generally the police (at least the officers I have delt with) are reasonable but if someone had complained that they thought a pervert was taking pictures of vulnerable youths (yes I know they will have been drunk loud and yobbish) they would have to check on the photographer. A quick search on the database of my name would come up clean so why wouldn’t I give it.
    Being obstructive stops a police officer doing his job.

    Saying that, it is all in how the officer asks.

  • Christopher John Gallagher

    Britain actually IS a pretty free country. Part of the problem is that, because we do not have a codified constitution and statutory law and common law seem frequently to contradict each other. The difficulty in this case is that the police seem to have acted above the law. If something happens in public, for example, in a public street, it is deemed to be a public event and, as such, there are no privacy constraints, so it can be freely photographed. Cops frequently seem unaware of this and warn off photographers attending demos etc, arresting them and confiscating cameras when ignored. They invariably back down when your lawyer makes the public event defence clear and return your kit. However, a different situation arises in respect of private property and if any of these shots were taken in a bar, for example, without the bar owner’s express permission then there would be cause for complaint. Another factor is that of keeping the peace, a duty imposed on the police. Breaching the peace is not a crime in or of itself but, because a police officer has a duty to maintain the peace, s/he can arrest you to stop you from behaving in a manner “likely to cause a breach of the peace.” This can result in a photographer who is doing what they are entitled to do being arrested if they are confronted by an angry mob who think they are not entitled to do it. The easiest way to “keep the peace” in this situation is to remove the photographer.

  • http://jamiebarlow.photography/ Jamie Barlow

    I’m no lawyer but my understanding is that you only have to provide a name if you have broken a law. Breaking the Police Reform Act — I stress *ACT* — means that no LAW has been broken, and there is a difference between the two. Police use peoples ignorance of this to scare them into handing over what they want.

    Of course, I could be wrong. I’m certainly no lawyer and have never studied it in-depth, so feel free to tell me I’m wrong :)

  • Orval85

    Nothing strange, it looks like just the typical british bigotry…it’s famous in the world, isn’t it?
    I’m not surprised at all.

  • Orval85

    That’s true eheh :D

  • Bill Palmer

    Point of order. The photographer was initially stopped by PCSOs – “Police Community Support Officers” – also known as “plastic plods” – they are NOT police and do not have the powers of a warranted police officer. They are renowned for a. over-reacting and b. ignorance of the law. I feel for the photographer but also for the PC, who was put in an awkward position by his “colleagues”. PCSOs cannot ask you your name, cannot physically detain you and cannot arrest you. The “moral” here – if there is one – is simple. Know your rights.

  • Maree Cardinale

    Storm in a tea cup

  • Kris Moralee

    You’re talking out your arse mate. The UK police are fairly tolerant in this regard and this issue here is an exception to the rule. All they did was act on a complaint from 2 separate sources. Are they just supposed to ignore it and hope it was all a nonsense?

    As the guy had nothing to hide then he could have just stated who he was, where he was from and what he was about and then saved himself an hour and a load of distress and now a formal complaint to whoever. All because he refused to just get on with it.

    Unless you have missed the recent news in the UK, we seem to have a massive issue with predatory perverts. People hidden by government and big institutions like the BBC. People are angry and scared and paranoid. This chap could well have been set upon by drunken people, made unreasonable by cheap spirit. The article states very clearly that the people who phoned it in thought this could well be the case. Then they found the hotpants image. Yes he had an excuse and a perfectly valid reason but still. We live in a volatile and small minded society, driven by the media. I see no real issue with what the PCSO did in this instance.

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  • Robert Slowley

    You have to give your name and address if a policeman asks for it, but he refused, that’s what caused the problem here. If he had given it nothing would have happened. It is reasonable for the police to act based on complaints, it would be unreasonable to arrest him, but it is reasonable to get his details in case they need to follow up on it later.

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  • Rab McLaughlin

    I can see I’ll have fun @ Carnaval del Pueblo next month!
    Funnily enough I had a “discussion” with the Police a few weeks ago & they actually seemed quite clued up, to the extnet they agreed I had every right to take the photo I did, but advised me to move away because certain people were getting agitated.

  • Rab McLaughlin

    But having to do it stealthily actually makes it seem a bit voyueristic, which it isn’t.

  • Rab McLaughlin

    Only thing I take issue with really is last comment from Police in AP article, ie they said he *was* being anti-social.

    I had something of an altercation a few weeks ago over a photo I took – the Police asked to see the photo, then had me scroll through to look at my other shots, which I had no problem with.

    Tbh I sort of provoked the situation to prove a point to myself (among others) and was pleasantly surprised when MPS backed up my stance & were very aware of the law – so much so that one said “Please don’t try to teach me the law Sir, I *am* a Police Officer”

  • Rab McLaughlin

    Exactly right – if they treat you with respect there is no real excuse not to show them the same.

  • lseven

    Sweet segway to pure spam. atta girl nancy.

  • Ivor Wilson

    You do realise “nancy” doesn’t actually exist?

  • lseven

    It’s a name she/he/it chose to use. The real point is I reported the post and it’s been deleted. Doesn’t really matter if the poster ever existed now the post doesn’t and that’s what matters.

  • Ivor Wilson

    I know, it’s just that you referred to a spambot as if it was likely to respond.