Scunthorpe photographer faces down abusive security guards at Golden Wonder factory who want to enforce imaginary law against taking pictures from the public pavement

In this video, Hamst, a proud resident of Scunthorpe who enjoys taking photos of local landmarks for the Visit Scunthorpe site confronts two very nasty security guards for the Golden Wonder factory. The guards are furious that he is taking pictures of the factory from the public pavement and they shower him with threats and abuse (at one point, one of them encourages a colleague to run him down with a car). They cite imaginary laws that prohibit taking pictures of private buildings from a public place and repeatedly threaten to sic the police on him.

Hamst keeps an admirably cool head through the whole ordeal and is generally a model for how one should behave when corporations' representatives make illegal demands on photographers shooting in public places.

Golden Wonder Security (Thanks, Roach McKrackin!)


  1. On the fence, you can see a sign with the security company’s name – Kingdom Security.

    From  their  website and corporate video:”Kingdom Security, breaking the boundaries of security since 1993″ “Formed to influence and inspire the security market place by providing thoroughly professional and accountable security services”

    Oh, the irony.

    1. A typical slogan for a typical security company which takes any flunky off the street, gives them minimal training, and puts them on post at the lowest bid.

      I used to work in the security industry, so I know.

  2. I really, _really_ hope that Hamst emailed those guys the link to this video.

    Hamst is cool.  I like Hamst.

  3. Surveillance has almost come full circle. From being a community function; to being contracted out to a god when society got too big; to becoming formalised as a function of God and his priests; with the death of God and the Enlightenment passing to doctors (priests of the god Medicine) and Governments with their police, both open and secret; more recently to CCTV cameras; and now back to the community armed with handheld video cameras.

  4. Clicking through, I read that two security personnel have resigned – I suspect they might have been resigned – and Golden Wonder have invited the photographer to a tour of the factory.

  5. The security people’s behaviour is indistinguishable from the behaviour of those worried that their criminal activities are being photographed. Just sayin’

  6. Scunthorpe … Scunthorpe … hmm where do I know that name from? Doesn’t ring a bell. Better checkout out that Visit Scunthorpe website.

    OK, not seeing much here; let’s check their About page. Hmm nothing here again. Scunthorpe must be such common knowledge that it’s not worth mentioning. *Everybody* must know what it is! Boy do I feel stupid! OK, case closed!

    But you know what? I’m still a little curious. Better Google it.

    “Scunthorpe is a town within North Lincolnshire, England. It is the administrative centre of the North Lincolnshire unitary authority, and had an estimated total resident population of 72,514 in 2010. A predominantly industrial town, Scunthorpe, the United Kingdom’s largest steel processing centre, is also known as the “Industrial Garden Town”. It is the third largest settlement in Lincolnshire after Grimsby and Lincoln.”

    Third largest, you say? Well, case closed. Yep, I definitely should have known what that was. Definitely wouldn’t have made more sense to refer to it as “an industrial town in the UK”.

    Next up: Time to Google Golden Wonder.

    1. Dude, your ignorance is your problem. I’ve never been there, don’t live in the country, yet I’m aware of the town’s existence.

      (Also, it seems you found a high-tech workaround for your ignorance, so be happy. Wasn’t that hard, was it?)

      1. Do you really consider it ignorant to not have heard of a small, relatively unimportant town in the UK, if one is not from the UK?

        I don’t know what circumstances arose such that you were aware of this town’s existence, but they are not typical. I’m from the US but I’ve been to the UK, and I almost exclusively watch UK TV. I watch a lot of British movies, including more obscure ones. I listen to a lot of UK music. I read about it a lot. I know way more about the UK than the average American, and I know of a lot of obscure towns and such.

        But I’ve never heard of Scunthorpe (or Golden Wonder for that matter).

        Normally I wouldn’t reply to a comment like yours, one that’s so gratingly patronizing and mean-spirited – but it’s gotten 4 likes.

        The original complaint is ridiculously overwrought but it’s not ignorant or invalid. Cory is a UK citizen now, but he knows that the BoingBoing audience is a global one (and probably US-centric) so it would be a nice gesture to include simple explanatory details about UK-specific things that he mentions, such as Scunthorpe and Golden Wonder. Not really necessary since it’s fairly irrelevant to the story, just would be nice and certainly couldn’t hurt.

        edit: due to comment below mentioning the Scunthorpe problem, it turns out I have heard of Scunthorpe – but being aware of it through that context is not the same as actually knowing about the town itself, and it’s not necessarily something that’s easy to remember.

        1. “Do you really consider it ignorant to not have heard of …” (fill in the blank.)

          Yes.  That is what ignorant means.

        2. “Do you really consider it ignorant to not have heard of a small, relatively unimportant town in the UK, if one is not from the UK?”

          By definition, yes. 

          ig·no·rant[ig-ner-uhnt]adjective1.lacking in knowledge or training2.lacking knowledge or information as to aparticular subject or fact.

        3. Yes, you normally would since you seem to respond to almost every single comment ;-).

          As others said, I meant it pretty neutral and not derisively. That said, S****horpe is pretty well known and even if I hadn’t ever heard of it and was really, really interested I’d just have taken the 2 seconds to plug it into Wikipedia. I mean, seriously.

          1. Oh, I know. I was tired and your comment just struck a bad chord with me. I was a bit nasty, sorry – no offense meant; I agreed with the spirit of the original complaint and decided to have a go at your comment :)
            Again – when it comes to stuff like this on the internet, I know I can look it up on Wikipedia (and I usually do) but it really does irk me that people so often leave out these really simple, easy-to-include details, especially when they know most of their audience is not necessarily familiar with the things they’re discussing.
            BTW last I checked, I was the third most prolific BB commenter behind Antinous and Cowicide (one of the Disqus buttons gives you a list). However, unlike them I don’t usually end up in arguments (even pedantic ones). I can’t tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing :)

          2. The Toy Dools have this song called “The Devil went down to Scunthorpe” and this is a band that plays gigs worldwide so… yes, Scunthorpe is known worldwide.

          3. penguinchris, It works both ways though. Quite often there will be a place or company mentioned that everyone in the US knows about but means little to anyone outside its borders (especially when talking about politicians).
            Learning about the world outside the US can be good for you.

    2. I’m not sure I understand the nature of your complaint. Is it that you’re unfamiliar with the name of a town mentioned in a headline on the internet? This cannot be an uncommon occurance, considering the wide reach of the internet and the many corners of the physical world that you are probably unfamiliar with.

      Even without Google, you can surmise that Scunthorpe is a location from the first sentence of the post, and not a coffee shop or a South American wind instrument, say; people are normally residents of towns, villages and cities. And by watching the video, you can surmise that it is located in the UK; even, with only a little knowledge of UK accents, whereabouts in the UK.

      Is it that you’re worried that this little piece of knowledge has forced something more useful out of your brain?

      1. Here’s the thing. I’ve seen enough posts by Cory to know that if it’s a place I’ve never heard of, and there’s no reference  to the country, then it’s about the U.K. It takes no thought at all to come to that conclusion.

        I don’t know what, if any, style Boing Boing adheres to, but it’s common practice to specify things like state, province, country, etc.—especially when writing about places outside of the reader’s immediate area. AP Style, for example, only lists 30 cities that may stand alone without a state name. This is obviously a rule made to be broken

        If I wrote for a Delaware newspaper, I certainly wouldn’t write about Newark, N.J. without mentioning *which* Newark.

        Boing Boing writes to a worldwide audience. Style arguments aside, it just makes sense to be clear on these things.

        1. There appears to be only one Scunthorpe in the world (at least I can’t easily find a reference to another), so no ambiguity there.

        2. Where’s Delaware? Where’s Newark? What’s NJ? On a similar point, does the subtitle in this Kickstarter post mean anything to anyone? 

          “A Product Design project in Bend, OR by Mark […]”

      2. I am sorry you felt the need to have the moderators delete my response. I shall reproduce it for posterity to the best of my ability without the offending nugget at the end:

        ‘Since we’re being all pedantic, please allow me to illuminate the nature of the comment:

        On reading the descriptor ‘Scunthorpe’ in the headline, a certain percentage of the readership unfamiliar with the existence of the eponymous town will interpret it not as a location descriptor, but rather as a pejorative – perhaps seeing it as a delightful new and as-of-yet unheard of variant of ‘****wipe’ or somesuch – applied to the photographer introduced in the very next word.

        This is disorienting to the regular boingboing reader, who knows that the editorial position usually favors put-upon photographers, and is exacerbated by the implicit assumption that one knows intimately about the Golden Wonder Factory as well. (Especially humorously so for me, as I refer to my own personal genitala as ‘The Golden Wonder’). Not to mention seeming as well a tad more crass than the usual boingboing headline in doing so.

        Going through this thought process while attempting to read the headline and article is sufficiently distracting from the subject matter of the piece so as to merit a somewhat sarcastic and perhaps overblown response to the implicit assumption that all necessary context was provided in the headline, as evidenced by the post to which you responded.

        That’s about it.’

        Except that I overreacted to my perception of your comment as deliberately snide and obtuse by taking the genitalia references too far with a deliberate replacement of the word ‘what’ with a similar but vastly more vulgar four letter word, and lobbing it in your general direction.

        For which I sincerely apologize. I can only explain myself with the following Jack Handey quote: “Laurie got offended that I used the word ‘puke’. But to me that’s what her dinner tasted like.” If I have misconstrued your intentions, I stand corrected.

        I shall now consider the matter closed. Good day, sir.

    3. I vote for countries being mentioned along with town names (as much for the US as the UK), especially as the US stole so many of our town names it creates a lot of ambiguity.

        1. To spare anyone else the sisyphean ordeal of typing it into the Google search field, apparently the “new” York is a large city on the east coast of the USA, up near Canada.

      1. Idaho had a phase where they tried to take as many famous city names as they could (i.e. Moscow, Paris, Dayton, Dover, etc.)

      2. Oh come now. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

        Anyway, “New York” and “New Hampshire” and “New Jersey” are far better than the original names the Anglo-Americans came up with.

        California alone has multiple “Rock Creeks,” “Deer Creeks,” “Bear Creeks,” “Big Creeks,” “Silver Lakes,” “Fish Lakes,” “Cold Creeks,” and so forth. The horror.

    4. I see where you’re coming from.  I wouldn’t expect someone in the UK to know, without looking it up, where to find, say Appleton or Petosky.  I’d at least provide the state it’s in.

      1. Thing is, if I read “Petosky Photographer” in a headline, I don’t believe I’d be so confused about the word that I’d write a long, elliptical comment about it. If I did complain, I hope I’d make clear what the nature of the complaint is, rather than ramble on about Google searches. And I really think that I’d first read the post and watch the video to provide the context that by necessity is absent from the headline.

        It’s a pretty long headline as it is, and Freshyill wants to add, “(a UK industrial town)” to it?

    5. It was in the news a while ago for having it’s name blocked on various websites due to their overactive profanity filters. S****horpe.

  7. On a slightly fatuous note, I’m amused to see this sort of censorship happening in Scunthorpe.  It’s the place whose very name has always subject to censorship by overcautious pattern-matching algorithms, from AOL in the 90s to XBL and family friendly internet filters today.

    I think the nearby towns should change their names to Sturdthorpe, Swankthorpe and maybe Scockthorpe.

      1. Or just remove the offending word from Scunthorpe and call it Shorpe. Then we can use the resulting new filter-proof codeword ‘Shorpe’ as  Boing Boing substitution-slang for the missing syllable. As in: that security guard was being an absolute Shorpe.

  8. From the security companies website… 
    “We provide security officers & security services as they should be!”
    Making up rules and generally being abusive of people doing legal things is how things should be?

  9. [edit: sorry, @ Glen Able]
    I had the vaguest memory – which turns out to be false, if google can be believed – of a not-entirely-serious campaign to change Scunthorpe’s name to something less offensive.  The only relevant references I can find in a brief search are to the problem you mentioned [according to Wikipedia, displayed the town’s name as Scoonthorpe, which really, really doesn’t seem to me the ideal solution], and an attempt by Scunthorpe United to change the name of their ground in honour of a former player, Jack Brownsword.  I am not making this up.

  10. Hey, those security guards are just doing their jobs. It’s the officials who make the imaginary laws that are the real problem.

    1. You really think that that the guards were instructed to aggressively harass anyone taking photos of the factory? Rent-a-cops just like to be high on their own imagined power.

      1. No. It was joke. I was satirising a popular argument put forward in defence of TSA security staff, amongst others.

        I kind of thought the ‘imaginary laws’ thing would be enough, but apparently I overestimated the irony detection ability of around  33% of readers, which is high enough that it’s probably my own damn fault.

        Anyway, now that I’ve teased it apart and explained it in great detail, you’re sure to find it hilarious! Right? Yeah I thought so.

    1. I did not know Golden Wonder were owned by Tayto, you live and learn.
      Tayto are far superior crisps by the way.

  11. There’s a difference between doing your job, and throwing your weight around. They were just trying to intimidate him, and he stood his ground. It’s nice to see a good outcome for the photographer for once.

    Ay up, you’ve done yourself proud lad ;)

  12. At 1″04′: “What gives you the right to take photos?”

    It’s a well established right: As a citizen, you’re allowed to do anything you want, unless there’s a law that specifically forbids it.

  13. Snacks! Golden wonder makes snacks!

    We must protect snack food production from terrorist plots.

    I’m all for protecting the chips.

  14.  “No it isn’t.”
    “It is.”
    No it isn’t!”
    “Oh, I’ve had enough of this.”
    “No, you haven’t.”

        1. It is “T” glottalization because the “T’ triggers the glottal stop. For example, button, gotten, eaten, all have “T” positioning before an unstressed syllable which leads to the pronunciation being delivered as “but’on,” or in this case “pho’o.” 

          1. Okay. Not a glottalized T then? That is something different. But isn’t it the medial position between two vowels which is the trigger of the substitution of one stop for another?

  15. What bugs me more is, watching other videos of this kind, if the police had actually come, there would have been no guarantee they would defend his right… (because terrorism!)

    1. I agree, I think it worked out better for his argument that they didn’t come; because the police don’t necessarily know any more about the law than the security guards.

  16. Given that all security in the UK have to be licensed by the SIA the best you can hope for is that they lose their license and can never work in the security industry again, but as it stands chances are the security company will just move them to a different site…

  17. Wow, those guys have really changed their tune since the days of painting their name on the back of  boxers during televised bouts.

    Oh wait, that was Golden Palace.

  18. Can anyone explain to me (and no fair just saying “no”) why these security guards are so angry and emotionally upset with photos being taken? I mean, if I were a security guard and I thought taking photos was somehow illegal, I’d do my job and protect the facility by first telling the photographer that it was against the law to take photos, and when the photographer said it wasn’t, I’d just call the police and ask them to come around to sort the situation out.

    I wouldn’t get all angry and start throwing things around like the woman in the video. Why get so angry? I just can’t bring myself to believe that it’s as simple as “Me have power, me tell you what do. You not do, me angry like Hulk. Hulk smash!”

    1. They are an example of the god complex that poor security workers manifest. “I am security, I _must_ be obeyed. To not obey me is to not recognize my authority. To not recognize my authority is to dismiss my justification for existence” The real purpose of security is to dissuade by their shear presence and failing that, to serve as witness and summon proper authorities.

          1. This is discussed at length on The Selfish Gene. My recollection is that the conclusion is that the evolutionarily stable strategy is to show aggression but not actually get into a fight. Much like demonstrated here!

    2. Honestly, I can’t see it as much more than “Hulk smash!” They had a vague idea that the photographer shouldn’t be there, and when he refused to stop, they felt helpless despite technically being in a “position of authority”. Anger at being made to feel helpless, combined with lack of self-discipline and stubbornness, caused them to lash out.

      I thought the female guard was actually going to try to shift the guy for a moment. At least they had enough control to just go into a tantrum instead of physically assaulting him.

      1. Honestly, I can’t see it as much more than “Hulk smash!”

        The Hogwarts career office has a pamphlet: Have you got what it takes to train security trolls?

    3. Oh, I would intuit from their manners that they are:
      a) worried about losing their jobs
      b) want to feel that they’re doing something important

      The brittleness of the woman is particularly interesting. I would guess as a female security guard she really feels like she has something to prove, and this photographers insistence on not doing what she orders is driving her up the wall. She is seeing it as defiance she is helpless to overcome.

    4. I was once taking pictures in a market in Skegness (also in Lincolnshire, as is Scunthorpe) and had a market trader get all shirty with me like the people in this video. No threat of him losing his job or similar there.. but I suspect maybe he was working illegally or selling shoddy goods ;-)

  19. I saw some interesting buildings in Nottingham one Sunday morning a couple of months ago while I was on my way to somewhere else, so I stopped to take some photos. After I’d been wandering around for a little while, snapping away, a guard approached me and asked what I was up to, but he wasn’t in my face about it, so I said, I’m taking pictures of the interesting architecture, and enthused about the cladding and stuff, and showed him some of the pictures.

    He seemed cool with that, but he asked me not to take any pictures of the company names, since they’d had some trouble with internet stalkers or something. He was nice and polite about it, didn’t make up any laws, didn’t express any incomprehension about the purpose of taking photos, and didn’t demand that I erase the pictures, so I was more than happy to comply with his request-that-actually-was-a-request.

    I did note that, like the encounter in Scunthorpe, it looked like it was the younger guard who was sent out to talk to me by the older guy. He didn’t come out to deal with me, but he did throw a suspicious look at me through the window when the younger guy went into their shack, and didn’t answer my wave when I drove by a little later.

    1. See, and a polite request is all it takes.  Even if you’d gone there specifically to get a photo of the sign you’d probably go along with it and tell them it was for private use.

      Honestly, a little civility from the people being paid to be be there goes a long, long way.

  20. In the US, they would have called the police and he would have been arrested on some vague charge like “disorderly conduct”.

    1. I once was in NJ, videotaping a building in my car from a public barely-traveled one-lane side road, outside a vivisection lab where there had just been a protest. Police immediately came and told me to move on. I asked to take another half minute of video, and the cop said to move on or he’d give me ticket.

      Me: “What for?”

      Him: “Obstructing the road, and being on private property.”

      “Me: “Well, which is it? I can’t be doing both.”

      Instant “Obstructing the road”, plus towing my car for good measure.

  21. This is just so fantastically stupid.  They want him to not take, what, his 90th picture from essentially the same spot?  If you were really planning a…. uh… sigh… terror attack against the Golden Wonder factory, how many photos would you need of the front of the building?  If you were (sigh) planning this attack, would you stand in front of the building talking to security for 20 minutes?  And would you be dissuaded from carrying out the attack if they managed to nag you to leave after 25?  Or before your 112th photo from the same position?

  22. The accents were delightful.  I mentally substituted Wallace and Gromit style-people onto the voiceovers.

  23. Does nobody else see the other side of this story? Sure, it’s not illegal to take photos from a public place, and the handling of the situation isn’t exemplary, but that doesn’t mean it’s right to do so in all cases.
    If your house is near a public road, how would you feel if someone spent hours taking photos of it? Wouldn’t it freak you out a bit? One photo fair enough, but surely a line is crossed at some point, for the obvious reason that you’d start to wonder “why are they doing that?”.

    And another thing… It doesn’t exactly look like a marvellous photo opportunity!

    1. why on earth would you equate the emotions of an individual in the home they live in with a security guard in the factory they are hired to watch over for a period fo the day? It’s not their house. It’s not ANYBODY’s house.

      Unless you mean it’s the corporation’s house? Whether you want to pretending that corporations have feelings, that factories are homes, or naturalize the idea that employees feel about their employers and places of employment as if it’s their family and home, it’s wrong, and also a really bad way to frame what our rights are.

      Unless you do think that corporations are people.. which is beyond all rational logic… (sigh)

      1. Well, i’m not saying it’s a sensible approach, but I think it is understandable. If you’re a security guard by vocation, you’re going to feel protective towards the thing you are securing, in the same way you’d feel with your house. As with all analogies, if you extrapolate in the wrong direction, you get to an absurd place…

        1. I think equating “hours” photographing a private home, and minutes(?) photographing a factory is nonsense.  As of the vocation of security guard, do you think the only training should be how to zip the vest?  Their behavior was ridiculous, and now, predictably, they’re the object of ridicule. 

    2. “it’s not illegal to take photos from a public place […] but that doesn’t mean it’s right to do so in all cases”

      I’d argue that the fact that it isn’t illegal renders the subjective concept of “right” utterly redundant. Everything is permitted that isn’t forbidden and so forth.

    3. well, if they’re worried about “why are they doing that” and their entire world starts collapsing when the outside of their dreary building is being –gasp!–PHOTOGRAPHED, then they can always look into setting up shop in North Korea, where individual rights are known to have no value by both the industry and the proletariat alike.

      by the way, if someone is “up to something” and they want to avoid skirmishes like this, they can just “stare” and “memorize” to largely the same effect.  but i suppose you’d defend the rent-a-cops if the guy was just gazing at the building for more than a few seconds.  heaven forbid someone makes eye contact with a person that earns more money that them.  proles need to learn their place.

      enjoy your paranoia!  please don’t call the cops on me when I gaze off into space in front of your home, though.  i’m harmless, it’s just that i’m on acid.

      yu nrdby tpd ic
      o iceil sui bth

  24. I love how he continues to take “pho’ os” (well, really, “vi’ eos”) during the entire conversation.

  25. We here at Golden Wonder are rightfully protective of our secret ingredients.

    Don’t tell anyone but it’s potato.

  26. Angry person: (paraphrase) “You can’t take a picture of private property.  You’re not allowed”

    Angry person: (shortly afterwards) “Go take a photograph of the steelworks.”


  27. You should call police next time and say that someone who you don´t know and it didn´t identify is intimating to you in aggressively manner with no base of a legal existing law.

  28. Maybe their new byline could be “We put the in Scunthorpe”

    Yes, yes… we are adults here and it is the wild internet and all, but that pesky c-word really seems to be last bastion of offense for some, so I left it at that…

  29. I wrote to Golden Wonder and here is their official statement:

    “Golden Wonder Ltd has been made aware of the video on various sites of the Internet.  The security team at the Golden Wonder facility are not employees of the company as this service is provided by Kingdom Security Ltd.  As a matter of urgency, we have asked Kingdom Security to conduct a full investigation into this incident with those employees involved and to take any appropriate action.”

  30. The video has been taken down by YouTube as it “Violates their terms of service”.

    Without SOPA or Protect IP being passed.  Note that there is no explanation from YouTube of how the video violates the terms of service.

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