A park official who stopped an 82-year-old woman taking pictures of an empty paddling pool, in case she was a paedophile, acted ?overzealously?, admit council bosses.

Keen photographer Betty Robinson was told to put away her camera while she was taking photographs of the outdoor pool on Southampton Common (pictured).

?We?re a couple of old ladies. We?re certainly not paedophiles,? Betty told today?s Metro newspaper.

Betty, who was with her friend Brenda Bennett, added: ?It?s absolutely ridiculous ? it?s bureaucracy gone mad.?

A spokeswoman for Southampton City Council admitted that the worker had made a mistake, adding that staff are instructed to follow national guidelines when monitoring people taking photographs.

These guidelines are issued by the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management and highlight the ‘problem’ posed by potential ‘misuse’ of digital cameras and camera phones, and the speed with which images can be uploaded to the internet.

The council spokeswoman told Amateur Photographer magazine that all council staff will be ?rebriefed? to ensure they do not take ?such a hard line?.

She said officials will be asked to use their discretion in future and that there may have been a legitimate cause for concern if there had been children in the pool.

‘Clearly there are times when families will be taking very innocent photos that are not of concern,’ she added.

The council has apologised to Betty over the fiasco but the worker – who has not been named – will escape disciplinary action.

The council?s head of Leisure and Culture Mike Harris said: ?We have to walk a fine line between protecting the children who use this popular paddling pool and the interests of the community as a whole. A lot of people are more concerned about the safety of their children these days so it is appropriate that our staff are aware of who is taking photos in the area.?


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Picture:The Home Secretary’s letter to the NUJ (below) appears to give police officers a licence to stop photographers in public areas in certain circumstances. The tone of the Home Office letter is similar to those sent to AP readers in recent months

Home Secretary letterHome Secretary letter