Mrs Sane and the offspring have been members of the leisure centre at the Holiday Inn in Telford for years, despite the considerable expense of being a member of a hotel leisure centre but maybe not for much longer.
As regular readers will know, we have very good Dutch friends who are godparents to out youngest child. They naturally take an interest in how they’re getting on and were keen to know how they were getting on with their swimming so Mrs Sane took the camera to the swimming pool this afternoon and after making sure nobody but our children were in shot, she took a picture.
Perfectly reasonable, you would say. There are no signs saying that photography is banned and only our own children were in shot so there shouldn’t be a problem right? Wrong. The leisure centre manager came out and told Mrs Sane that she wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the kids because it was illegal.
Naturally she questioned it and pointed out that they are her own children and they know who her children are on account of them being members there for years and my wife having worked there a couple of years ago. But that, apparently, didn’t matter. According to two managers there it is illegal to take pictures of children swimming – including your own children – and if Mrs Sane took the pictures to Tesco to be processed they would phone the Police and they would shut the hotel down. She was unhappy, to say the least.
The duty manager was unable to tell me which law makes it illegal to take pictures of your own children. He said it was the protection act. The what protection act? Just the protection act, apparently. I asked him if he meant the Data Protection Act and he said yes. I told him that hadn’t been amended since the 80’s and he told me to phone the Swimming Teachers Association. So I did and they couldn’t tell me. So I phoned the Police as it was them that would apparently close the hotel down. The Police called me back and said that it wasn’t illegal, they certainly wouldn’t get involved in a complaint about someone taking pictures unless they were indecent and they had already phoned the manager of the hotel to tell him that.
Now, I can perfectly understand it being illegal to take pictures of someone elses child. It’s a civil matter, not a criminal one, so the Police wouldn’t get involved but I would certainly challenge anyone who took pictures of my children without my consent. However, this wasn’t the case and Mrs Sane offered to show the manager the pictures she took so he could see they were only pictures of her own children but he insisted that was illegal. It isn’t illegal, it’s just hotel policy and if the manager had said that then Mrs Sane would have accepted it – the hotel is, after all, private property and if they want to ban photography they have as much right to do that as I do in my own house. What they don’t have the right to do is misrepresent the law (a civil offence of fraudulent misrepresentation) and upset my wife.
Either the manager doesn’t know the law and shouldn’t be claiming that he does or he does know the law and wilfully misrepresented it. Either way, I think there is a training opportunity somewhere. Whether we go back to the hotel or not … well, we’ll have to sleep on that one – the hotel has our phone number, an apology is a good place to start.
Interestingly, this law/policy doesn’t seem to apply to the Holiday Inn website: