Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Compare and contrast ‘camera offenders’

I just made a post expressing some concern over the circumstances of a man who was arrested for drink-driving, and ended being placed on the Sex Offenders Register for taking pictures in public places, albeit while under the influence of drink.

Although he did not commit any actual offence (he foolishly admitted a Breach of the Peace (basically acknowledged to be a catch-all if no actual charge exists), or break any laws, he was also handed a 5 year camera ban.

Photography can be risky in the UK – just having a camera might get you into trouble

But only a few hours later I read news of someone who was clearly doing something ‘wrong’, with covert cameras hidden in toilets, and some 700 videos obtained using secret ‘filming’:

A finance director at Glasgow’s biggest social landlord hid spy-cams in the toilets at his workplace to secretly film colleagues.

Mark Logan, 48, walked free from Glasgow Sheriff Court despite admitting to secretly filming almost 700 videos including hundreds in the Wheatley Group office toilets between May 2015 and May 2016.

Logan, of Tweedsmuir Crescent in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of sexual assault when he appeared at court in March this year.

When confronted about the videos he told bosses: “I am ashamed, I have been bottling it up for 20 years and don’t want to be gay.”

Logan, who has been placed on the sex offenders register, planted the cameras in digital clocks at the firm’s head office on Cochrane Street where he was employed until the recording devices were found last year.

The court heard Logan, who no longer works at the firm, also carried out the crime while on business trips to Edinburgh and London by filming colleagues against their knowledge.

In one video, he could be seen putting a device at the bedside table of one of his victims.

Via: Finance director secretly filmed workmates on toilet

Covert Digital Clock Camera

Covert Digital Clock Camera

As I noted in the first post, as regards the first case I mentioned…

But, I’m sorry, I don’t really see the problem with his video, taken in a public place.

Yet this second case has NO QUESTION regarding deliberate intent, planning, and clearly involved secret or covert ‘filming’…

His actions were not carried out in public, he was not even (as the first was said to be) ‘Under the influence’, and he was not doing anything that could, in any way, be said to be legitimately claimed to fall under Photographer’s Rights in the UK, or I suspect in most countries.

Yet the accused “walked free”.

This really does make the first case I mentioned look like even more of farce than it did a few hours ago, and more one of prudes or the ‘morally affronted’ making an example of someone that they think should taught a lesson.



May 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Photography can be risky in the UK – just having a camera might get you into trouble

In a world where we are surrounded by people constantly taking pics and recording video with their smartphones, not to mention the pervasive sea of public and private surveillance cameras and CCTV we navigate as soon as we step into the street – and now the rise and rise of the dashcam – it’s almost strange that any sort of photographer with a camera STILL seems to be fair game for being picked on.

While anyone simply holding a smartphone could easily be taking covert pics and video without it being obvious, and probably not even be noticed, it’s still the person who chooses to take a step up in quality and control and use a ‘real’ (by which I mean an obviously recognisable item such as a dSLR, mirrorless, or even compact) camera who is seen as the ‘problem’.

Previous accounts have had hired thugs security staff state that they view anyone with such a camera as a ‘professional’ who they will challenge if they are seen pointing a camera in their direction, or toward the building/property they are guarding. Past cases have shown they will confront ‘photographers’, even if on public land (the street) and restrain them, even calling police to attend to a ‘suspected terrorist’ or some such nonsense. The police SHOULD be called, but by the photographer who has been assaulted by those hired thugs.

This was brought back to my mind in the media coverage of a man (often described as a ‘pensioner’, as if that was somehow relevant):

A man was caught using a video camera to film women and children at a busy shopping centre last summer, a court has heard.

John Kane, 67, recorded footage of more than 60 women in the Central Retail Park in Graham’s Road, Falkirk, and at a nearby Tesco store.

He also secretly filmed children playing outside a nearby branch of Next.

When Kane was arrested on a separate matter he tried to flush a memory card down a toilet, prosecutor Ann Orr told Falkirk Sheriff Court.

The card was analysed and found to contain 60 short videos, lasting between 50 seconds and three minutes.

Ms Orr told the court: “The recordings appeared to be of adult females at various shops in the Central Retail Park.

“The camera operator has the camera positioned to show the females from the waist down, focusing on their bare legs and zooming in on their bottoms.”

The depute fiscal said the memory card also contained three slightly longer videos, each about three minutes, showing children aged between six and 12.

It should also be noted he was not arrested or detained for this, but:

The court heard Kane was caught when he was arrested over a drink-driving offence and taken to Falkirk Police Station in July 2016.

It was then he tried to dispose of the memory card, which was recovered by officers who spotted him acting suspiciously.

Source: Man secretly filmed women and children at retail park – STV News 16 February 2017

Pensioner secretly filmed women’s legs – BBC News 17 February 2017

So it appears he was drinking, and acted inappropriately.

But, I’m sorry, I don’t really see the problem with his video, taken in a public place.

Go onto sites such as Flickr and you’ll find the same material being shared around the world, and not classified as ‘unsafe’ or similar.

As always, I don’t want – and can’t – go into the specifics of this particular case, as I was not in court and am not privy to all the evidence and information available to the court and those involved. All I know of is the limited information provided by the media.

However, like the accounts given by the media in similar cases, I actually find myself worried almost every time I raise my camera to my eye, and consciously survey the scene firstly for children, and then for anything that I may be accused of taking ‘secret’ or ‘covert’ pics of.

If I see anything that worries me, I’ll move on or find another location to avoid any misunderstanding.

I’m not a great ‘people’ photographer anyway, preferring vacant scenes, but now I’m beginning to think this preference may have saved me trouble in the past.

Here’s the development of the case against the man concerned, as I waited until the conclusion.

He’s not only been placed on the Sex Offender’s Register (for taking pics in a public place) but also banned from having ANY camera equipment for a period of five years. He also admitted committing a Breach of the Peace – a charge also known as a ‘catch all’ when there is no specific charge to be made.

Kane, of Breton Court, Falkirk, pleaded guilty to committing a breach of the peace by operating a recording device to obtain footage of women and children in a public place without their knowledge and consent between July 15 and 22, 2016.


Where is there a law or requirement in the UK for that consent to be obtained (in a public place, and not for someone like a film star or actor whose image is their livelihood, and potentially copyright or similarly protected)?

Man who filmed women and children’s legs faces camera ban – STV News 30 March 2017

Camera ban for pensioner who secretly filmed women’s legs – BBC News 4 May 2017

As I said, I can only really repeat media reporting as I was not in court, but this case, like many others against ‘photographers’ stinks.

Am I guilty of something?

It reminded me of a pic I created a while ago, and used for a bit of fun in a Forum discussion.

Thin and Thick girls

Thin and Thick

To explain, I didn’t TAKE this pic, but actually created it some time later.

It’s a crop of one corner of the original pic, taken of the street or road that was the subject, and in which this pair happened to be walking at the time it was taken. I didn’t really notice them, merely waited until the minimum number of bodies was probably present, then took the pic.

I didn’t feel any need, or legal obligation to run after them (or anyone else caught by chance in a pic) and ask for their consent to take the pic, or ask their permission to use it later.

See this guide – I didn’t, and don’t, think I have to… EVER!

UK Photographers Rights Guide v2

But since the above was not the picture I took, but merely one sixth of it, caught purely incidentally, I wouldn’t have done so anyway.

That I could produce later this from a small crop from a larger image is entirely down to the fact that my camera has a sensor that enables such an operation.

They are wearing long coat, jeans, trousers, boots. ‘Decent’, to some.

Had they had been wearing short skirts and had bare legs? ‘Indecent’, to some.

Would I now be being traced by the police as a pervert (even though it came from a crop and was not the pic taken) and face being fined for a Breach of the Peace (per the reasons invented above) AND placed on the Sex Offenders Register?


Would, or could, I become a major criminal of some sort merely by cropping out a small section of a picture I took, and only perhaps escape that fate due to some chance decision by those in the pic on what they chose to wear that day?

Not even a problem abroad

By coincidence, I spotted this post with advice to photographers, from a non-UK blog, where there ARE often more restrictions, but even this states:

8. Don’t Ask Permission
Like I said before, as long as you in the scoop of the law, there’s nothing to worry about. Just do it. Take your camera and shoot. Don’t think that you have to ask the local or anything like that for permission. If you want to photograph some face close-up, then just do it. Don’t ask, do it.

9. Don’t Apologize
Sometime there will be some people don’t like when you photograph something. Don’t apologize. You obey the law, what you did isn’t illegal. So you did nothing wrong, and there’s nothing to apologize for.

For example, let’s take a look at what happen in London. If you’re a photographer, especially architecture photographer, its (sic) really hard to take photograph of architecture. Because the treat of terrorism. They’re not allowed to photograph, they’re demanded to delete their photos, and sometime cops called. It’s not illegal to photograph building, but many photographer there been in trouble because of it. So if that happen to you just show them you’re photograph and if they ask you to delete it, then say no. You did nothing wrong.

From: 10 Thing You Never Do In Photography

May 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

The Big Safety-Pin at Rottenrow

I suspect I have a better pic of this giant safety-pin, but if I keep on trying to find it then I’ll never include one, good or bad. It’s not that bad, I just find it irritating that I didn’t notice some leaves overlapping, and forgot to include the plaque detail below.

Although its official title is “Mhtothta” (the Greek word for maternity), this 7 metre tall giant safety-pin sculpture is known locally as the “Monument to Maternity”, and depicts a nappy pin in memory of the Glasgow Maternity Hospital that stood on this site.

Made from stainless steel by Glasgow artist George Wyllie in 1996 and originally entitled “Just in Case”, it was originally created for the city’s local Mayfest festival. Wylie then took it to Portsmouth, suggesting it could be used to symbolise attachment to the European Community. It then went to Edinburgh when leaders of the Commonwealth were visiting, implying attachment to that body as well.

But it was as the nappy pin, with a small bird perched at the very top, that it was finally and permanently installed in Rottenrow Gardens, opened in 2004


The Giant Nappy Pin

May 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment


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