A MAN was forced to delete images from his mobile phone after taking a picture of an immigration centre for a joke.
Warren Swaines, 51, snapped a picture of the main gate of Haslar Immigration Removal Centre, off Dolphin Way, Gosport.
Mr Swaines said he was taking the picture so he could send a humorous message to a friend who was applying for dual citizenship in Britain.
But he said a security guard from the centre told him he could not take pictures and then made him delete the image.
Mr Swaines told The News: ‘I walked up to the sign, took a picture – there was no-one in it.
‘I turned around and went back in the car.
‘As I was getting ready to move off a security guard came up and said “what are you doing?”
‘He said I couldn’t take photographs of government buildings.’
Mr Swaines, of Reading, was visiting family in Gosport and had driven to Haslar sea wall before taking the photo.
He said was then told to delete the photograph as the guard watched him do so.
Mr Swaines added: ‘I think you had a bored security guard who didn’t know the law.
‘I have no problem that he came out and challenged me.’
Mr Swaines, a former Liberal Democrat councillor in Reading, said civil liberties issues are important to him.
A spokesman for Haslar said the guard asking Mr Swaines to delete the image and him being told he could not take photos of the centre was a misunderstanding.
‘This misunderstanding is regrettable,’ he said.
‘Staff have been reminded that it is acceptable for the public to take photos of the outside of the building from public land.’
As the law stands it is legal to take a picture of the centre from public land.
A 2010 letter from the Association of Chief Police Officers to police officers said unnecessarily restricting photography was unacceptable.
The letter by Chief Constable Andrew Trotter said: ‘There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place.
‘Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order.’