Essex Police have come under fire over a photo competition that gives them the right to use any entry worldwide for three years without paying the photographer a penny.

Police say the contest, which is open to amateurs and professionals, is designed to promote the force through its new website.

However, entrants are told that any image submitted to the competition may be used by Essex Police for marketing and promotional purposes.

‘Essex Police reserves the right to use the photo in future publications or as it deems appropriate,’ add the competition’s terms and conditions.

‘Be warned they want a non-exclusive worldwide rights grab for three years,’ wrote photographer Steven ‘Spike’ Brown on Amateur Photographer (AP)’s online forum.

Spike, who last week protested against restrictions on taking pictures in public, added: ‘I wonder if any photographers shooting for the comp will be harassed?’

AP reader Craig McAteer told us: ‘I’ve dropped [Essex Police] a line advising that I won’t be submitting any images and stated the reason why.’

Organisers say that it is against the rules to include any people in the photos.

Instead, entrants are urged to send in pictures depicting ‘what Essex means to them’, such as local scenes and beauty spots.

Rules state that the photographer will be credited for any image used and that the top prize is an Apple iPod media player.

Essex Police had yet to comment following a phone call to the force this morning.

Keep an eye on this story for updates later today…