Photographers on a public beach pose an apparent safety risk and are falling victim to council red tape primarily targeted at large scale film crews.

On Tuesday we reported how Hattie Miles, a photographer for the Bournemouth Echo, was told by a beach security guard she needed a ?licence? before taking pictures for commercial purposes from the promenade of Branksome Chine beach in Dorset, which is council-owned.

Poole Council has since told Amateur Photographer (AP) that photographers do not need a licence, but those taking pictures for commercial reasons need to inform council officials beforehand.

Stuart Terry, Coastal Works manager at Poole Council, said that ?commercial operators? are required to inform the council – and show proof of public liability insurance – to ensure photographers and filmmakers ?do not unduly interfere with the safety and enjoyment of other beach users?.

He confirmed that ?on occasions? beach wardens will approach photographers ?to confirm the nature of their activities if our beach office has not been given prior notice?.

However, AP challenged the council to spell out why a photographer may pose a safety risk to other beach users, given that a lone person with a camera is hardly the same as a camera crew of Bollywood proportions with truckloads of equipment in tow, for example.

In response, the council?s head of Leisure Services Clive Smith told us today: ?The council has no desire to prevent individuals taking photographs on Poole?s beaches. The code of practice is there as guidance and is intended to support the council?s work with companies looking to undertake commercial photo shoots and film productions.?

He added: ?The size and scale of some productions does mean that the council has to consider the possible impact on other people, particularly in popular locations such as public beaches which are especially busy in the summer months.

?With this in mind, we do ask commercial operators to inform us of their plans as a professional courtesy. Depending on the nature of the production, we may also request evidence of public liability insurance.?

AP’s newsdesk has since asked officials, once again, to elaborate on their safety concerns but, at the time of writing, the council had not issued a further response.

Reacting to the council’s comments, John Tracy of the Bureau of Freelance Photographers, said: ‘While councils have the right to prevent photographers from taking pictures on their land, this seems to be yet another example of tin-pot bureaucracy.

‘What possible danger could photographers pose to other beach users… These restrictions should be challenged on the basis that photographers – both amateur and professional – have been taking pictures on beaches without let or hindrance for over 100 years.’

Smith insisted that in the ?vast majority? of cases ?professional productions are happy to co-operate?.

He claimed that this arrangement is beneficial to photographers and filmmakers as the council can ?offer advice and support in securing the best locations for their projects?.

Meanwhile, the council has raised questions over a picture published last week by the Bournemouth Echo which, the paper said, showed a security guard approaching a tourist with a camera on the same beach. Asked to respond to the photo, a council spokesman claimed this is what the published image ?appeared? to show, but declined to elaborate.


Photographer stopped over beach photos

Beach photo ban a threat to ‘civil liberties’