Security Guards Told Back Off


ARTA has instructed the  New Lynn transport hub security staff  ” to take a less bureaucratic and more understanding approach to such events in the future.”

This follows an investigation into the incident raised here on AKT in which a member of public taking photos of the new building from the footpath was stopped by a security guard who grilled him, ordered him to stop taking photos and claimed the ARC had banned the taking of photos of the construction, with the only photos allowed being official ones they put online.

My thanks to ARC Chair Mike Lee  who responded immediately to the post, and asked ARTA’s top  chiefs for an investigation which they have done promptly.

It’s good to see issues raised here get such a high level official response.

Thanks to the very fine community board member who is always community minded in also asking the right questions around such issues.

And ARTA has also responded to the individual in a very concerned way to make sure he can continue to take photos.

These are all very good officials, and I am impressed.

Their report confirms that the person was entirely in his rights to take photos and that ARTA’s policy is to allow individuals to take photos at rail stations, and only seeks to manage situations where customer safety may be compromised. It’s accepted that “the matter could have been dealt with in a better manner and less heavy handed.”

I didn’t at the time publish the full report from the reader but it was appalling and left him shaken to be asked for his name and phone number and to have the security man phone his office to report a “security breach.”

This was not about taking photos inside any restricted area.This was taking photos of the new New Lynn transport hub, which I later got an artist to illustrate so that I didn’t fall foul of the security!

If we don’t stop this sort of over-the-top security guard behaviour, we will end up with the situation discussed here the other day where transport enthusiasts or mere tourists get accused of terrorist behaviour by photographing buildings, planes or other scenery.

During the debate I had an interesting email from someone who claimed to be a security guard and claimed the security guard at New Lynn was “only doing his job…especially considering his name most probably would end up in this post which is totally unfair to the guard considering a lot of the blame is put on him when it shouldnt be. the only thing he actually lawfully did wrong was not providing proof of him being a security guard in the form of ID.”

The guard writing said it is completely fair for anyone on the station platform just to take photos shouldnot be allowed to do without permission.

“Firstly, it is a health and safety thing, any extra people adding to the crowds on the platform that dont need to be there is obviously an issue, and a big reason they need permission is so we know that someone has gone through the safety guidelines with them. And it is very fair to ensure that anyone taking photographs should need permission from the person or company that owns the property they are on and taking photos of.”

It was an interesting insight in how security guards think and although he changed his ming about letting his comments be published, there is no way he can be identified from the part I have quoted.

There is clearly some urgent education needed of people working in the security issue in this area.




  1. Doloras says:

    A few points:

    1) If the original secguard, as is reported, “claimed the ARC had banned the taking of photos of the construction”, and that’s not in fact true, then what are possible explanations? Honest confusion? Or “I will tell any scary-sounding lie in order to enforce compliance”?

    2) With regard from the secguard who wrote you an email, who actually set forth these procedures for “safety guidelines”, “not too many people on the platform”, “property owners need to give consent for photos to be taken”, etc? Again, is this the ARC, or were these just rules made up by the security company?

    To summarise: do security companies have a habit of making up their own rules, without regard to either the interests of their employers or of the public? We know that the police sometimes do.

  2. Geoff says:

    Just to add, in the years that I’ve been taking photos at New Lynn, every security guard I’ve encountered has been perfectly fine with me taking pics, be it from the street or on the platform, and all along the full length of the trench (but outside the construction area). I hope people don’t get the wrong idea about the guards there, as the negative report isn’t a reflection of how I’ve found them to be at all.

  3. Jon C says:

    @Geoff I’m sorry but this guard completely overstepped the mark and a high level inquiry by ARTA has found it to be the case using words like heavy handed.
    This case is absolutely appalling.
    A middle age respectable man takes out a camera from the street and takes a photo with his hand held still camera.
    He gets seized upon by a security guard who demands his name, address and phone number and informs him he has to cease taking photos immediately and to wait there while he is reported upon for breaching ARC rules about photographing construction.
    This, as other forumers point out, is like something out of Bush’s 9/11 paranoia about anyone filming public buildings being a terrorist.
    The man was very shaken and upset.
    He has had a full apology and I admire the way Mike Lee, Arta chair Rabin Rabindran and another high ARC chair have acted quickly to get to the bottom of this. This sadly is not considered a single case.
    You have been lucky but this sort of nonsense has to be stomped on and while I hesitated to make a fuss, I am glad that changes have been made as a result to ensure common sense prevails for everyone.

  4. anthony says:

    Im pleased to see that ARC has stepped in, Although there is proberly still needs to be a fix up around our Major airports though.


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