South Shields Daily Photo

A collection of images from South Shields and the North of England

Banned picture

with 53 comments

picture banned by South Tyneside Council

Curly asked to put camera away

I didn’t want to post this, I never intended that this photoblog should get political, but too many people in the UK (and one or two in South Shields) think that males, cameras, and children can only mean one thing!

See this post in my main blog.

It is as plain as the nose on my face that South Tyneside Council has issued a policy, or instructions, or guidelines to it’s staff – there have been too many incidents over the past few years for this to be more than a simple coincidence.

In protest at their draconian, and authoritarian views and cack-handed attempts at censorship, I have decided that there will be no more posts on this blog until I learn that they have issued new and more enlightened guidelines to their staff.

If you feel as strongly as I do about this issues then can I urge you to email your thoughts to the Leader of South Tyneside District Council, Cllr. Iain Malcolm

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Written by curly

August 20, 2008 at 12:01 am

53 Responses

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  1. How ridiculous! I’ve had the same problem in our local shopping centre (I was taking a photo of a sweet vending machine!) Its alright for them to film you 24 hours a day in town centres but not for photographers to take some shots. Don’t these people realise we are promoting our cities and towns?!


    August 20, 2008 at 12:40 am

  2. Darn right maley!


    August 20, 2008 at 12:47 am

  3. I’ve added a link to my post to help the cause!


    August 20, 2008 at 12:58 am

  4. As a woman with no children, I’ve encountered occasional looks of skepticism around playgrounds and public spaces like this. It’s stupid really. I’ve started carrying around Moo Cards ( with my web address on it and handing them out to folks who wonder what I’m doing. Sorry to hear your craft is being questioned.

    I’ll add a link to my site. You should also visit Thomas Hawk’s blog and let him know about this issue. He covers photographer harassment.


    August 20, 2008 at 3:13 am

  5. I checked the other blog. Is the man giving money to children?

    my life in montreal

    August 20, 2008 at 5:14 am

  6. I’ve reported this on the discussion board at Geograph too as the subject crops up there too.


    August 20, 2008 at 8:05 am

  7. I have read about the issue at your other page and am concerned with the issue (?) you are currently facing.

    While I understand the parents’ concern, I think what the Council members have decided about the issue is unnecessarily excessive. I see no harm in photographing children at an event in a public space such as in your photograph, especially if the pictures are not meant to focus on a particular child/children, but the event itself.


    August 20, 2008 at 11:53 am

  8. One thing I noticed from just the limited view of the photo is the smile on the childs face and this is what really lifts the human spirit – being able to remind each other of the joys of being child like in our everyday living. i hope these issues can be resolved while avoiding such drastic censorship!


    August 20, 2008 at 11:54 am

  9. hm….My thoughts are, this situation reflects the state of the world. Pedophiles have always existed, only now, people are aware of the issue and can actually talk about it. They’re also aware of the damage that is done to the victims.
    Your move is a bold one. I’m not sure I’d be able to do the same. I hope your protest creates some awareness, but I’m cynical. People are fearful, and a protest won’t allay fears. They want to ‘do something’ to eradicate a problem, and this is the one small thing ‘they’ (the establishment, those in charge, the general consensus) can actually do easily.

    Don’t let the idiots get you down.


    August 20, 2008 at 12:45 pm

  10. I also find this topic very sensitive. I am generally careful when I take photos of people, but running a city daily photo it cant be always about buildings only. Such way I would give an impression like living in a ghost city. But when it comes to children (unless they are in a crowd) I always as the permission of the parents or to be honest I avoid to photograph children to avoid the experiences you had. The censorship I find very drastic and senseless, too.


    August 20, 2008 at 12:47 pm

  11. This is quite sad …. and these senseless people don’t even get to know or bother for photography ….

    Dont take it lying down.


    August 20, 2008 at 1:32 pm

  12. that’s utterly ridiculous, you’ve got my support and it’s a shame to stop posting, i’d rather you continue to post in protest!!!
    best regards


    August 20, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  13. Please continue to post. So much over-reaction in people today. MB


    August 20, 2008 at 2:34 pm

  14. We got the same problem in Johannesburg, South Africa. One cannot take pics almost everywere except in delapidated places. We trying to promote our city but some people do not look at it from the same perspective. Its really insane.

    BUT I stend by what I believe in and will always take pics.


    August 20, 2008 at 2:37 pm

  15. As a photographer on the Isle of Man I run into suspicious locals all the time. As a woman I thought it would be conisdered less of a “weird” thing to do photographing people. It’s mainly why my blog is human free. I am absolutely disgusted with the attitude of your local council, especially as they were my local council at one time. I will by all means email this tardy little individual. Also if you don’t mind I will be covering the issue in a post with a link back to your site. I say this often and I will reiterate it again, we bloggers need to stick together and support each other.

    There was an article in the mirror about a father photographing his own children in a playground that almost got attacked phsically by errant parents. The police were called, lots of name calling. He was admonished by the police on the spot for no wrong doing.

    I hope this issue can be resovled for you asap. I along with many others enjoy your work.

    Ps. Should they not be more concerned with the fact that Gary Glitter is returning to england. Now there is a very real threat.

    All the best.



    August 20, 2008 at 2:50 pm

  16. I just sent an email to Mr. Malcolm. Hope it helps. CDP bloggers area the best free PR for a city
    they can get. And do pedophiles really openly photograph little children??? I don’t think so. What are
    the odds ? It is just the easiest thing to target when they can’t catch the real culprits. Also, does
    this mean your city is going to ban your tourists from taking pictures of their fair city??? Hang in there!
    Don’t let the turkeys get you down.


    August 20, 2008 at 2:51 pm

  17. I of course want to protect children from predators. But if local governments are banning photos of children at play in open public places this has gone too far. Good luck!


    August 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm

  18. Lots of great comments here. As the mother of three daughters and also as a photoblogger, I am sort of in the middle on this. I agree with zsolt72 above, and I also try avoid the problem by keeping children out of my photos whenever possible, or only photographing my own. Even then, they are generally from the back, or not readily identified. Too bad that in this day and age, when we all need something uplifting to remind us that the world isn’t as horrible as it looks on the news, that we do lose the spirit of community events, and those beautiful, innocent smiles too. A tough, tough issue. I hope you are able to achieve a compromise.


    August 20, 2008 at 3:19 pm

  19. I have some troubles to take photos of children and women too. We’d better start a compaign and look for more support. Add me to your supporters list.


    August 20, 2008 at 3:59 pm

  20. I understand the concern of protecting children from pedophiles. But it doesn’t mean that everybody taking picture is pedophile. Although the issue is very sensitive, I still believe that communicating your concern openly and directly to your local council is the best way to resolve your problem. Good luck!


    August 20, 2008 at 3:59 pm

  21. This is an excessive response of the powers-that-be. Hang in there and spread the word about this. This kind of censorship is happening all over the world. I don’t think banning photographers is going to rid society of pedophelia.


    August 20, 2008 at 4:55 pm

  22. That’s the logic of Zero delay, zero default, zero risk… and the precaution principle.
    Silly as can be.


    August 20, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  23. This is a sad statement of where the world is. I have not encountered this yet but wonder how much longer I have until I do. For you, I have only one fear: This is your last post here on this blog, ever. That your/our words will fall upon deaf ears and they may say no more than “sorry, that’s how it is”. Good luck.


    August 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm

  24. Wow, Curly this is bold!
    I am totally with you and * knocks on wood* luckily have not had these experiences.
    Hope to see you back very soon!!


    August 20, 2008 at 6:57 pm

  25. This is ridiculous. I’m so sorry you’re facing these nonsensical challenges and I hope they get resolved. Good job bringing attention to the issue and keep up the fight!


    August 20, 2008 at 7:22 pm

  26. I view this as strictly a legal issue. I do have many problems here in Miami. At places such as the cruise ship terminal, airports etc… cameras are always viewed with suspicious mind. Unless there is a prominent sign that says “cameras not allowed,” I would protect my right of having my cameras and take the pictures I want. Even if the guards come to ask, I would challenge their requirement to post a sign to forbid cameras. Now for the photos of children, the laws in the US are ambiguous at best. TV stations blur the faces of “children” (not sure how they define children) to protect themselves against law suits. In any case, if there is a ban, I would ask to see its legal claims in writing. I am not sure about your jurisdiction, but I think there is not much they can do except to claim the bans are enforced. They are practically not enforceable. But if they are your employers, that’s another story.

    Been there, done that.


    August 20, 2008 at 9:59 pm

  27. It is a sensitive issue everywhere and I am not sure your city is handling it correctly…..I know I would certainly not stop blogging as that won’t stop the problem…your city has won when you stop blogging…..I like to have the last word and that wouldn’t be it for me…..


    August 20, 2008 at 9:59 pm

  28. I’m careful when kids are in the area I’m shooting… perhaps only because I don’t want to be thought of as a pedophile. Cameras are so small these days, and if I were wanting to take inapropriate photos of kids I’d use a tiny, inconspicuous camera, not a huge, and obvious SLR.

    I understand the problem though and if I were a parent perhaps I’d be concerned about someone taking shots of my kids. While I don’t agree with how the situation is handled, I understand why parents (and consequently the Council) get upset. I’d imagine that the Council has received multiple complaints from paranoid (and peraps not-so-paranoid) parents about people photographing their kids.

    If someone were to take photos of my kids, then I guess I’d have to just accept that there is a chance that they could… do whatever with them… but that that chances are pretty good that the photos won’t harm them (however disturbing the thought is to me). The only serious concern I’d have is that we do live in a world of (really) freaky people, some of which stalk and target particular kids that take their fancy. This would bother me.

    With all of this in perspective… I still don’t agree with censorship… because if we allow it then it will never end. The more society allows this kind of restriction, the more the restrictions will expand. Can you say 1984 (George Orwell)?

    Mail sent.


    August 20, 2008 at 10:03 pm

  29. That’s just ridiculous! Are you going to pursue this? As in go to the newspapers, radio etc?


    August 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm

  30. Curly, I’ve sent an e-mail to the councillor supporting you.


    August 20, 2008 at 10:47 pm

  31. Don’t stop!


    August 20, 2008 at 10:51 pm

  32. Make no mistake this is NOT about protecting the kids (A quick inquiry of the photographer would establish that)Its’ all about the jobsworths flexing their muscles to show they are in charge. In just the same way as your metro system authority banning mobility scooters thereby trapping the disabled in their homes

    There is no law banning taking photos in public & no one in the UK, unlike France owns their image however if someone claims to be put in fear by your actions they can report you to the police who may arrest you for a breach of the peace if you refuse to stop

    Decades from now there will be no happy holiday snaps for grandparents to show there grandchildren or even parents to show their kids to remind them of milestones in their lives

    1984! it’s here


    August 21, 2008 at 3:20 am

  33. Curly, I cannot believe this has happened to you yet again. I agree with what the other Chris said. . . This is not about protecting kids. . . .It’s about power. It is quite ridiculous.


    August 21, 2008 at 4:27 am

  34. I have sent my e-mail, Curly. Thank you for the e-mail address.


    August 21, 2008 at 5:38 am

  35. le célèbre problème du droit à l’image, j’ai été aussi oblige de retirer des photos pour une exposition pour ne pas avoir de problème d’interdiction. je trouve cela stupide ;o((

    the famous problem of image rights, I was also obliged to withdraw the pictures for an exhibition for not having a problem ban. I think this is stupid ;o((


    August 21, 2008 at 7:49 am

  36. Saw your post at Tuzla Daily Photo. There really is a problem with digital images and it’s not just to do with children. Because of the ease of electronic transmission and reproduction photos are open to abuse and exploitation of all sorts (for example identity theft by 419 scammers). But this isn’t a problem that’s going to be resolved by local bureaucracy and when measures of this sort provoke resentment and antagonism they damage the chances of building a consensus on how to deal with the real issue. You might be interested in a post by Dave Gorman at his blog about his experience in Victoria Park, Bethnal Green –


    August 21, 2008 at 9:10 am

  37. There was an issue in Glasgow with a guy who was hauled away by the heavies for taking a picture of his own kids. This is fear politics gone mad.

    I’m away for a few days, but have linked to this post in tomorrow’s blog at Glasgow DP.


    August 21, 2008 at 9:53 am

  38. I agree with almost all of the comments written on this post. Perhaps the most important point made is that stopping your photography and as a result closing down South Shields Daily Photo, means that the jobsworths have won their case. This cannot be acceptable in a free society. I have written to the Leader of the Council (Cllr. Iain Malcolm) asking him to clarify the matter by publishing in the local paper a statement on the official line on this matter. If instructions, guidelines or whatever have been issued to council employees, we are all entitled to know where we stand. This, of course, is not consultation which this council prides itself on, it is “best practice”. It is keeping everybody informed. I hope you will rethink your stance – we all enjoy seeing your photographs and as we see by the worldwide reaction, they are promoting South Shields. Or would the council prefer some negative demotion. I am sure we could oblige.


    August 21, 2008 at 10:07 am

  39. Unfortunately I cannot support you as would writing to the Leader of the Council because I’m afraid that my poor English could be not well understood. I can say that in Italy (where actually people are living a sort of literal paranoia with the paedophilia AND privacy issues), laws grant you freedom to take photos of crowd / people *without* you have to ask any permission to publish. I find this very reasonable.

    If you intentionally take photos of a situation with persons inside (like a concert) again you’re free to publish it but if there are persons under 18 you should hide their eyes or manipulate the image to blur them.

    Fabrizio - ikol22

    August 21, 2008 at 1:42 pm

  40. Dear Curly,

    Yesterday I sent an e-mail per your link to Cllr. Malcalm. I wrote him that I would have to re-think returning to South Shields next year especially if I would not be able to photograph my “adventures”. What could this ban on photos do for tourism?

    Hang in there and stick up for your rights.


    Clare, Clinton, New York, USA

    August 21, 2008 at 5:52 pm

  41. […] Services this afternoon, following the world wide protests that erupted after this post and this picture appearing in South Shields Daily […]

  42. Thank you all for your warm words of support, I believe that you have all played a crucial role in persuading the leaders and officers of South Tyneside Council to take a conciliatory stance and heralded the arrival of new guidelines for council staff.

    See this post.

    If you wish to continue sending emails to Cllr. Malcolm then please do so, but thank him for listening!

    South Shields Daily Photo will be back tomorrow!


    August 21, 2008 at 6:15 pm

  43. I’m glad reason prevailed.
    In the Barrow day by day photo blog today is a park picture. The Cenotaph is the subject.
    I think we need to pause for a minute or two and read the names on these memorials and try to understand who these people were and why they died and why they are remembered.
    Too many of us have forgotten their sacrifice and what it meant for those generations that followed.


    August 21, 2008 at 6:38 pm

  44. Oh well. Once reason prevailed. It’s a good thing for you and for everyone else too.

    Fabrizio - ikol22

    August 21, 2008 at 8:45 pm

  45. Professional photographers are also having problems. There is a guide that has been isseud for photographers rights. You can find it here:
    Hope this will be of help to you.


    August 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm

  46. Interesting how our rights and freedoms are frittered away. We are under constant survelience by video cameras nearly everywhere. Yet the art of photography is deemed illegal?

    Beware of the governmental beaurocrats, it is the first step toward oppressive totalitarianism.


    August 22, 2008 at 2:43 am

  47. I’m happy to see you’re back in the business, Curly! 🙂 I’ve had some discussions about this on my blogs.

    Have you seen this? (warning: Vulgar language, but the movies are interesting regarding what has just happened to you.)

    Good luck!
    Lothiane from Oslo Daily Photo


    August 22, 2008 at 5:34 pm

  48. funny how all the pics were printed in the gazette though


    August 23, 2008 at 9:09 pm

  49. Curly, sorry I missed coming immediately, I was away for a few days. I fully support you in this.
    It in unacceptable to have that sort of censorship in a free country where the most basic pictures face banning on grounds that are less than clear.

    Reading the comments I understand you won your case.
    I am so glad common sense has prevailed.


    August 25, 2008 at 7:32 am

  50. I’m with you in this cause. I understand their concerns but such prohibitions are rubbish. What makes it even more rubbish is the fact that they apply only to adult males with pro cameras.


    August 25, 2008 at 7:20 pm

  51. Thanks for taking up this important issue. The paranoid idiots who are making this policy and the jobs-worths who are carrying it out make me sick and it shows how easy it would be to introduce a totalitarian state.


    August 27, 2008 at 8:53 pm

  52. I would like to comment on this issue in a bit of a different way. I myself have children and am fully aware of the issues photographers have on taking pictures in public places where children are concerned. I can see both points of the argument though, yes it may seem over the top to the photographer and yes they are completely innocent when taking photos but i don’t just see it that ppl may think you are a peado i see it from a side where u may not want a photo of your child to be on a website or a blog or anything because of the dangers it can bring in other ways ie,a parent that is not allowed to see (or know the whereabouts) of child or any other member of a family. In schools they always have to have written permission for photos of your children to be taken and published and some for the reason i mentioned above don’t want their childs photo to be taken
    I do agree that it is a bit over the top but there are other sides to the argument for ppl not wanting photos of their children taken. I myself do not like ppl to take photos of my kids, i don’t know who will see them or what they would use them for even if it is innocent. I do think there should be rules and regs to protect these feelings of parents


    September 26, 2008 at 5:46 pm

  53. When filming an air-show, a nice young woman accused me of “filming the children” and then a nice young man added that I wanted to “rape his baby.”
    As a matter of fact raping babies was the last thing on my mind that day, and two policemen examined my camera and found no images of satanic ritual abuse of children or anything remotely inappropriate.
    Having given some thought to this issue, I felt rather insulted.
    I went down to the promenade with my camera the next week looking to strangle anyone who made a similar allegation, when I found out I could not afford to sue for slander. The police stopped and searched me. Fortunately I had decided to leave my axe and Uzi sub-machine gun behind in the special hiding place in the forest, so the police sent me home instead, and this time they found no children at all on my camera-this was deliberate, as it would be evidence in any justifiable homicide case.

    Trevor Louglin

    October 16, 2009 at 7:40 am

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