The following incident I’m about to relate happened on the 16th March 2013. I didn’t realise just how long ago in the year it was until I referred back to my notes. It was such a memorable moment of 2013 for me that its so ingrained in my memory that I thought it happened much later in June or July.
It felt like a fairly inauspicious day; dull, cold and overcast but I live in a typical Northern English town with a gritty history and a problematic future, but it’s my town and I was born here and I feel a need to document it photographically, following in a certain tradition of street photography which continues around the world to to this day.
I’d not been in town long and just taken an image of a young girl wearing a red jacket leaning against a wall when I was approached by a group of teenagers. One of the group, a youth ( youth A ) was taller than the others but I’d estimate that none of them were yet 18 ( at the time of writing this I’m 51 ! ), allowed in Public Houses or classified by law as adults. Certainly as it transpired they were incapable of intelligent thought, logical deduction or rational argument. Youth A began to verbally abuse me calling me a paedophile while the others, male and female started throwing things at me. I was hit above the eye by a baseball while on the ground I caught sight of some biscuits and a plastic cigarette lighter. I turned my back on them and walked back a couple of streets into the centre of town. They followed and Youth A approached me again with a smaller Youth B who was as rude and uncompromising as Youth A if not more so. I told him that if he thought I was committing a crime then they should accompany me to the Police station and we’d discuss the matter with them. Not surprisingly they didn’t seem bothered about that but Youth A expressed a desire to take me to the top of the nearest multi storey car park, beat me up and smash my camera. He stood at the side of me and announced ” I’m going to hit him”. An elderly couple who’d heard this exchange asked me if I was having problems and the group began to tell them of my assumed wrongdoing. The elderly man told them they shouldn’t be taking the law into their own hands and I walked off while my aggressors were distracted. Ten minutes later in another part of town I was approached again and so ensued a game of cat and mouse while simultaneously having thing thrown at me. I eventually lost them in Marks and Spencer and made my way home, a little shaken and unnerved at my ordeal.
A few days later I returned to town and unwittingly walked into the path of Youth B who immediately began to threaten me. He was with another youth ( they’re never on their own ) whom I didn’t recognize. This time I didn’t even have my camera ! Youth B is considerably smaller than me so I was somewhat surprised at his behaviour and his attitude to someone obviously older than he and larger in stature. Perhaps that observation had just not registered with him or he was just too damned stupid ? I walked off after again he declined to accompany me to the Police Station a stone’s throw from where we were presently stood. I had the same more forceful conversation a few days later with Youth A, again on his own, who also declined and had the temerity to accuse me of harassing him !
The image which started all this is produced here for your edification:
FAST FORWARD TO 23 DECEMBER 2013
I had some Council tax to pay and an insurance cheque to pay into the bank. As usual I had my camera with me . Christmas is an interesting time photographically and I hoped I’d get the opportunity to document this aspect of the town.
I suspect I was followed into the bank by Youth A but have no proof. Youth A was stood by the door and Youth B in the queue immediately behind me. Youth A pointed me out to Youth B ” You know who that is don’t you ? ” and he lifted his arms to mimic the using of a camera. I turned to face Youth B, ( he took a few seconds to recognize me and I really didn’t feel comfortable with my back to him) who immediately started verbally abusing me. As I walked out the bank Youth A was calling me. They followed me outside and this continued. Then the two set about me. Having just come out the bank I thought I was going to be mugged and Youth B with hands in his pocket had a knife. It all happened quickly and although I managed to defend myself, was caught on the side of the head and ended up on the ground. Several days later I have a large bruise middle right buttock and several smaller ones across my ribs and back.
I’m getting far too old for this kind of thing and the next few Christmas days were spent slightly bruised and battered. Nothing that a few Ibuprofens haven’t sorted out though.
December 27 2013 – The Police Station
I thought it prudent to inform the police. I’d like to say that they were helpful. I acknowledged that despite this being Christmas I should have reported it straight away so they could have had someone on the scene. Next time ( if there is a next time ) I am to either make my way to the Station or phone them using the 101 number. I didn’t realise that the passing of time rendered a crime null and void but here’s where it gets interesting. The two ladies on the desk ( in uniform) spent a good ten minutes looking on the Police’s very own database for the legalities around photography in public but were unable to produce me with any concrete facts, Acts or Laws really pertinent. I did however get what I thought was conjecture and supposition based on what I got the distinct impression, was personal opinion. Certainly not what I would have expected at a Police Station.
1. When photographing in public anyone who appears in the image, permission is needed by each individual in the image.
2. The photographing of Police or any other Security Personnel is most definitely illegal.
I’ve sought clarification from the Ask The Police Website and provided a link below. I urge you to take a read. This it would seem is all we have to go on at present ?
Your question relates to a topic already covered on the website. Please see question number Q717 for relevant information. See below for a link to the question.