Public photography sparks safety warning

Mount Maunganui community Constable Kurt Waugh says it’s not illegal to take photos in public, but it is if it is inappropriate. File photo.

A man reported to be taking photos at a Bay of Plenty water reserve has sparked a police reminder, about the rights of public when it comes to photography in public spaces.

One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she observed a man she believes to be around 60 years old taking photos for more than an hour at the reserve.

“I noticed a skinny, pale, grey-haired man wearing faded half-blue, half-pink shorts and a plaid shirt taking photos with his phone.

“He was taking photos of three girls and these were not plain photos. He was perfecting the image and capturing the shots with great intent,” says the woman.

“At one stage, zooming in on people while they were bending down and he looked as if he knew what he was doing.”

She says his behaviour made her uncomfortable.

“After following him to another area of the reserve, he proceeded to also take photos of young boys.

“I mentioned it to someone in the area and she said I should give him the benefit of the doubt. She thought he may have been taking photos of his grandchildren or of his children.”

The woman doesn’t believe he was there for a purpose.

“I waited for all of the kids to leave and he did not come back to collect a child. I felt sick that I didn’t approach him or do anything about what was happening.

“The whole thing has taught me to be a lot more observant. There were so many people in the area who didn’t even see it happening.

“I think people need to be more aware this is going on in broad daylight and look out for people who may be acting strangely while taking photos in public.”

She says the incident was reported to police.

Mount Maunganui community Constable Kurt Waugh says the incident highlights a need for people to understand their rights and outlines what they should do in a similar situation.

“It’s not illegal to take photos in public, but it is if it’s inappropriate.

“We’ve had a few cases where photographers have claimed photos they are taking in public spaces are consensual and I’ve found the best advice is to ask someone who might be doing the same, to leave.

“If they don’t, if you’re really worried, feel uncomfortable or upset about someone taking photos, especially if they are of someone wearing swimwear, then call police.

“Some people may get angry if you approach them and calling us may save you from becoming part an unwanted confrontation.

“We are more than happy to come out, talk to them, see what they are doing and find out who they are.

“If it’s at an event, another option is to talk to the manager or the organisers, and get them to ask the person to leave,” says Kurt.

“It might turn out to be innocent or it might not. We usually find if someone is innocent they are more than happy to hand their device over and actually show us what they have been taking photos of.

“If someone starts to get reluctant, or doesn’t want to show us the photos or does show is photos and they are of people in their swimwear then that is when we would be asking some serious questions.”


Rename article

Posted on 19-01-2018 10:24 | By Eddie Munster

This article should be renamed -Public stupidity sparks ’news’ story.

There is a judgemental statement

Posted on 18-01-2018 12:05 | By locksnkeys

kinakat writes ’approach the weirdo’ what complete nonsense. If you think my comment was defensive you have a twisted view on life - I’m a photographer yes! Not this one, however I will defend his right to takes photographs in a public place! Again if you think it is inappropriate don’t dramatise make the point - and call the police! Get over yourself!

Get the facts straight

Posted on 18-01-2018 06:00 | By kinakat

How would you know,maybe the observer wasn’t confident enough to approach the weirdo taking the photos. Actually it could of been you taking the photos which is why you wrote so defensively.

Facts straight??

Posted on 17-01-2018 22:26 | By Christine1965

I say good on you for noticing odd behaviour like that... don’t bring it to the attention of media? Why on earth not!! This is a very sick world we live in and there is no drama in being reminded of it. These sickos are everywhere and we all have to be vigilant. Well done I say.

golly gosh

Posted on 17-01-2018 19:08 | By old trucker

how does this person know that he was perfecting shots what a lot of nonscense, people all over the world at anyone time are taking photos at the beach and did she see the photos he took me dont tinks so, and how could she tell he was zooming in on them, she does not need to go to spec savers with her vision, anyway SUNLIVE you are AWESOME and being the best and winning the same is AWESOME, keep up the stories through 18,Thankyou. 10-4 out. phew.

Complete storm in a tea cup

Posted on 17-01-2018 17:03 | By dbunk

What a load of rubbish, you watched him for that long, did and said nothing then rung the media, pat yourself on the back for saving society.

Get the facts straight

Posted on 17-01-2018 14:15 | By locksnkeys

It’s not illegal to take photos in public, but it is if it’s inappropriate.If you have an issue with the photographs a photographer is taking then don’t act out to the media. Speak to the person find out who they are photographing and see if they object.With a phone in every hand these days it is much more likely that a person with bad intentions will be using a phone. and not as the complainant says He was taking photos of three girls and these were not plain photos. He was perfecting the image and capturing the shots with great intent,!What drama and nonsense if you are worried speak to the person quietly and assertively. Dont make something of it which it is not!

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