bazzadarambler PRO 6:02pm, 20 February 2008
I neither love or hate Tesco. I just take photographs of everywhere I go ... so when short of milk I might pop in. Today in Exeter I took a couple of pictures of the front of the store, and of an interesting sculpture. Suddenly a rather irate woman pounced on me and demanded to know why I was taking photographs without permission. I found her approach threatening and an over - reaction but I smiled and said I would not do it again. Does anyone know the legal position? I suppose a carpark is private property but is an employee of Tesco in the right to demand that I should not take pictures of the exterior of a store? What about pictures taken instore? Is this legal? Have I been a very naughty boy?
©aius 11 years ago
As far as I'm aware public car parks are governed by the same laws as the public highway, and thus you can take pictures of things you can see from them, just as you can from public property.

But then I'm not a lawyer, google around for what others have said on this issue.
Gene Hunt PRO 11 years ago
I would of put her in her place if she was irate with me
A G 1 PRO 11 years ago
I took loads of photos of Tesco Extra in Stockport UK being built right upto the opening day and nobody bothered me.
allyp73 11 years ago
As an employee of Tesco, I'd say, take as many shots as you like, but then again, not everyone in the company is as layed back as me.
duncan PRO 11 years ago
send an email to tesco corporate complaining about the woman's aggressive tone etc:
Lewis Walsh 11 years ago
Legally Tesco can ask you not to take photographs ON their property, this includes the carpark. However you can take pictures of the carpark from a public place, ie the road. As there is no reasonable right to privacy when in the car park, but you must be outside of the carpark to be entire legal.

As for in the store they can ask you not to take pictures without their permission. However, they have no right to confiscate your camera, or to demand you delete pictures. Under UK this is considered assault.

The employee was probably just acting on a policy of challenging those deamed suspicious. And you gotta admit, taking photos of a supermarket is unusual, though I see nothing wrong with it.

I worked for Tesco for five years, but left three years ago. I have been challenged in places such as Liverpool St railway station in London where the security guard threatened to take my camera. Luckily the patrolling police were sympathetic and when I explained that I knew the laws in regards to photography it went no further. But I made a quick exit in case the security guard came back.
souadam 11 years ago
Car parks aren't public highways (Eagle Star Insurance 1998).

This actually happened to me in TK Maxx, I was surrouded by store staff and told to stop taking photos, you do feel very threatened. They also demanded I deleted any photos I had taken. Never had any problems with Tesco though, I once spent about an hour in one just photographing stuff.

As long as you get clued up on what you can and can't do and when you do something you shouldn't you dont mind being told off.
Aaron Stone. 11 years ago
I work as Security within Tesco so i therefore am on the look out for people taking photos. We have been told that anyone taking general pictures of the Exterior is ok. If something is specifially being photographed, such as an advertising stand or part of a wall or structure, we are to approach and ask. Lewby is correct as we do then ask for them to not take photographs and therefore we can not do anything other than that. Depending on their responce or attitude towards us, we can then serve a ban on the person not to return to the store thus enabling the person not to be able to even be on the property. If they then return after that, we can issue a trespass notice to them.

Photographing in store, we do deal with in a completely different manner. We accept no photography unless you have been granted permission by the duty manager or store manager that day. advanced permission is asked for so it gives management and appropriate staff like myself on security, time be informed that photography will be happening then. They are then required to sign in and wear a visitors badge.

Unauthorised photography, excluding people taking photos of each other with camera phones as we have had a few times, we ask for them to stop, ask them why they are photographing items or whatever they are taking photos of. We can then say that if they continue we will detain them and call the police under the Terrorism Act, not sure what year. This is because it has been before where people take photos of areas in store to place bombs or fake bombs like that scare 14 Tesco stores were caught up in 9 months ago. From that point, the police then have the powers to confiscate memory cards or film and/or cameras for evidence etc.

We then also serve a ban again and deal with the person under trespass if they return.

Taking from the roadside is completely legal and we can not do anything about that at all. I have personally questioned someone who was photographing our recycling center of which is on our property. They were a contractor for one of the recycling companies doing a survey for access and did need to get permission from the store, but as he could see the area from the roadside, carried out his work from there without bothering the store. We checked his paperwork and let him carry on, and even granted him permission to photograph on our property.
Eleventh Earl PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Eleventh Earl (member) 11 years ago
Interesting thread - here's my tale - I was visiing the Uk last September - I am English, but have lived in California the last thirteen years. I came over to the UK to help my son move to university, and then I took a tour of my old haunts, including Stroud in Glos, as I lived in the area for a few years.

I stopped at Tesco near Stroud town centre for a few essentials. Being a flicker-ite and a troublemaker, I thought I'd take a few pics as I traversed the store. There are a number of differences between UK supermarkets and California markets that bear some reportage -

Aisles are bigger in the UK, prices tend to be cheaper (yes, amazingly supermarkets are cheaper in the UK, even allowing the exchange rate).

Supermarkets in general are cleaner and there tends to be much more variety and much more healthy stuff in the UK.

Yes, it's all true - as a thirteen year resident of the US I can attest to these facts.

Also there's tax on books and newspapers in the USA, and the prices you see on items are pre-tax - in the UK the prices you see include tax - often overlooked when doing price comparisons.

Anyway, after taking about a dozen pics, I stopped at the checkout with my razors, soap and TopGear.

A poor little overweight bloke with a ponytail and a little beard, wearing a short-sleeved white shirt and a tie addressed me. He said "excuse me sir, but apparently you were taking pictures in our store".

I responded in the positive.

"Can I ask you to delete those pictures, please, sir", he replied.

"You can ask", said I, : but i won;t delete them".

" can I ask you why?", he said , turning a little greer than he was before.

I said " because I like to keep a record of my life, and this counts as as part of it".

And off I went, with the poor little beardy feller not knowing what to do.

But what could he do? would he manhandle me to th floor? Call the police? Throw me out?

So I have my pictures of exciting Stroud Tesco, and damn the consequences!
Clive Andrews 10 years ago
Interesting insight, Aaron. Thanks.

But doesn't it all seem a bit over-the-top?

The idea that photographs are being taken as preparation for terrorist activities seems the vaguest, most unlikely scenario - I have to wonder why retailers (not just Tesco) encourage such paranoia in their staff.
duncan PRO 10 years ago
And to back that up Clive, security guru Bruce Schneier recently wrote a great article on exactly that:

The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography.
Eleventh Earl PRO Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Eleventh Earl (member) 10 years ago
The same nonsense is going on over here in the US.

Our company sends people out on reference photo shoots periodically, and we actually had two people tailed by the FBI in Philadelphia , and three others "detained" for four hours and interrogated, as they were taking pictures in a subway station.

The latter was all the more distressing as my work colleagues had sought and received permission to take pictures.
unknown winter [deleted] Posted 10 years ago. Edited by unknown winter (member) 10 years ago
This confrontation took place tonight in Glasgow. I was standing in the street (on a traffic island) taking the shot,
I hadn't actually noticed her coming towards me. The dialogue went something like :-

Her: Can I ask what you're taking pictures of?

Me: The garage

Can I ask why? ("Hello" I thought to myself, " have I bumped into the Socrates of Cardonald? Who is this woman who has unexpectedly burdened me with such a profoundly complex question? Have I really stumbled into a philosophical dialogue on the nature of artistic creation?")

I'm the manager of the station, and I need to know why you are taking them? (Ah, i was wrong, she wasn't Socrates after all. She was a tiresome and officious lackey taking the opportunity to vainly step outside of her field of authority)

I'm not taking them for criminal purposes. If that's what you mean.

Yes, but I (emphasized) need to know why (again emphasized) you're taking them.

For personal reasons (what an awful response but I couldn't say something like "I collect Tescos" or "I'm a Tesco-spotter". I suppose it must look that way though)

For personal reasons? (clearly she was as unimpressed by the response as I was)


Do you know it's illegal? (I expected this question, and from this moment on I could've written the script in advance)

I think there's a problem if I'm on your property but since I'm in a public space ...

Yes, but you shouldn't be doing it anyway. ("Yes" a little champagne cork popped off in my head "I'm winning this. She doesn't know what she's talking about")
You'll have to delete the pictures. (she tried to see the screen on the back of the camera at this point, but I switched the camera off too quickly for her)

No I won't

You won't, well, give me your name then (who does she think she is?)

I'm not telling you my name (I could hardly keep my face straight at this point)

Why not?

I don't want to

Right, I'm calling the police

Call who you want (I'm afraid I slipped back into Glasgow vernacular here, so it probably sounded more like "waant")

She had a notebook and pen with her and she then seemed to write down my car's registration number, and I remember being surprised that she knew which car was mine. She'd obviously spotted me. I'm afraid I might have let the side down by leaving at that point.

It was really distatsteful, and so fellow Tescopians whenever you're in Glasgow head to Cardonald and help make this the most photographed Tesco in the pool!
Aaron Stone. 10 years ago
great post about the Cardonald store. unfortunatly, i live the other end of the UK from that one, but whenever i am up there, i will make sure i get a photo from it and i will do it from the path directly alongside the store with my car parked around the corner.

I am now off security and now a dot com delivery driver for Tesco, and to answer the question from before, it was a reason we use to stop people from photographing within the store. I have personally not used it but a store near to us had. (about the terrorism comment) i know it is way OTT these days but then i was doing my job, and yes, i have admittedly done photography in Tesco myself! lol
XJ8-Coachy PRO 10 years ago
In response to the original question, yes you have been a naughty boy. First of all, excuse me but I have only just found this Group, whilst doing research connected with work.

Right, I work for Tesco Group Security & Loss Prevention. Tesco car parks, and any other property for that matter, owned by Tesco are NOT public property. It is classed as private property and members of the public are 'invited' onto such property for the intention and purpose it is designed for. By you entering a car park owned by Tesco, you are agreeing to use that car park as a conveinience as a customer who would be visiting our stores. If you intention is other or in addition to this, then you are wrong, and are actually commiting the offence of trespass. Generally, we would not persue the fact as it is a menial 'offence', although all offenders (for want of a better expression) should be discouraged from doing such acts as other customers can and have seen this as a infringment of the privacy. (If you take a picture of the front of the store and you catch a facial shot of a passer-by (customer), they are entitled to persue this under the Data Protection Act, of which if required, we as a Company would have to support any authority as part of course.

On the same principle, but at the other end of the scale, imagine shoplifter comes into the store and 'asks' if he can take something without payment (stupid scenario I know), but his request is denied. That is theft. If his request is approved (it never would, I hope!), this is missappropriation. Still has permission, but is against Company Policy and UK Law.

Morale of the story, ASK!
pieaddict 10 years ago
Although I agree with most of what TesSec has said I feel I must correct them on one or two points. If you are off their property there is very little stopping you taking photos of the store. Owners of property do not normally have the right to prevent someone taking photos of their property from a public place. I also disagree on the issue of privacy invasion. It is illegal to harass another person and taking photos could amount to harassment. This isn't to say that someone could claim they were being harassed just because they were being photographed when they didn't want to be. Harassment is essentially behavior that causes another person harm or distress, maybe if a photographer was to stalk someone or thrust a camera into a customers face then maybe it could be seen as harassment. Taking a photo of someone would not normally be regarded as a invasion of privacy. The key is whether the person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, so taking a photo of someone when they are at home would be an invasion but taking a picture of someone whilst out in public would not be.

(info taken in part from ref -
pieaddict Posted 10 years ago. Edited by pieaddict (admin) 10 years ago
Update regarding data protection act.

Photographs that incidently include an image of a person (in this case a tesco customer) are according to the information commission's office unlikley to contain personal data.
concerned quill [deleted] 10 years ago
Photograph taken in a public location in the UK of a structure on permanent public display, and exempt from copyright under Section 62 of the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 ("it is not an infringement of copyright to film, photograph, broadcast or make a graphic image of a building, sculpture, models for buildings or work of artistic craftsmanship if that work is permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public")
concerned quill [deleted] 10 years ago
one thing tesco forget is they capture images of every customer who enters their stores without consent of course for security purposes. I photograph life where ever I go I am not a tesco spotter i am not often challenged but if asked to stop photgraphing I do. But if a sercurity guard is agressive I tell them not to be rude. I often insist if the feel I have done wrong they should call the police they dont often and when they do the police only ask me to leave the store and I would have done that if the security guard had asked in the first place. One thing to remember this is not a criminal act it is a cival matter and the police should not have there time wasted. It reminds me of the last week of Woolworth the manager gathered here security staff and the Boots security manager and two street wardens, She was insisting I was detained on a busy Saturday. I had to explain to the group four guard I was not a criminal and said he was for grabbing me to try and me leaving the store. after 30 minutes outside the store the only person who could see sense was the Boots security manager, he knew the police were not going to turn out on a bust saturday to take my details.

last week I was in a hospital car park and the security objected to me taking a phot of the wonderful stone building that is leicester prison. The guard asked me to delete pictures I politley refused. I always refuse to give my details especialy when they lie about the law.

if you are polite and explain in a nice way most people will let you take photos you have to sell your reason and it works I have photgraphed in council offices shops and many other places historic reasons is a good reason.
concerned quill [deleted] 10 years ago
On e last point the security guard mentioned data protection if we caught a customer in a image we took. if this was a issue we could sue tesco everyday i walk past a store on a public highway and like many others I am filmed by cctv.

I think it is because he has been told about data protection issues Tesco has to comply with.

Whilst working in retail I have noticed this has tightend for example who can or not see photgraphs of people kept in stores for loss prevention.

last year I was given two photgraphs by the police of to young people who were banned from all stores in our town and had to sign a data protection form and agree not to show the phot to any members of the public and destroy at a certain sate although these peopel were shown in locl papers photgraphy is a funny old game. and the law is never clear. I think the best thing is alway be polite dont give your details unless its to a police officer.. and if you do get permission from your local tesco dont sell the photos to the media when they request them after a court case as was the case when tesco were fined last year for overcharging and the media wanted my photgraphs of the inside of the oakham store. I dont want to be banned from my store after Tesco opened anywhere else that was trading in our town went bust so i would starve if I was banned from the store.
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