A bus spotter has decided to give up his lifelong hobby of photographing
buses because people fear he is a terrorist and even a paedophile.
Rob McCaffrey – who calls himself an omniboligist – has been taking
pictures of buses all over the world for forty years but has only ever
faced problems in Britain.
Over the time the 50-year-old has amassed a collection of 30,000
photos of buses, trams and coaches.
Rob McCaffrey has been forced to hang up his camera after more than
40 years – because he keeps being mistaken for a terrorist and
But Rob says that in politically correct Britain he is finding it increasingly
difficult to continue his beloved hobby because of the fear and suspicion
he causes among onlookers.
In the last year he has been questioned twice by the police and had to
give all his personal details after people who saw him innocently
snapping buses on public roads reported him.
Rob, from Robinswood, Gloucester, explains: ‘Since the 9/11 attacks
there has been a crackdown on security and it seems everyone with a
camera is now regarded as a potential criminal.’
Enlarge Rob McCaffrey
Distraught Rob, pictured with wife Jay, has been fascinated by buses,
trams and coaches since he was a schoolboy
“The past two years have absolutely been the worst. I have had the
most appalling abuse from the public, drivers and police over-exercising
‘People like me just want to enjoy our hobby without harassment but it is
Rob says his love affair with buses has taken him all over Europe but
authorities in Britain have treated him the worst.
The credit controller says his first brush with the law was in Pontypridd,
South Wales, last September.
A bus driver took exception to being photographed and called the police,
who demanded to see what Rob had on his camera.
A second incident in Monmouth saw a Police Community Support Officer
approach Rob and run his name and address through police computers
after a member of the public complained he had been acting strangely.
While Rob admits the image of a bespectacled, mac-wearing trainspotter
taking down train numbers does apply to some extreme bus and train
enthusiasts, the vast majority are normal everyday people, like himself.
Rob’s wife Jay, 46, agrees: ‘My brother drives a bus in London, and
says if he had a pound for every time a tourist took a picture, he’d be a
‘It happens every day. The spotters are just an easy target.’
Under the law, t is not illegal to take photos in a public place, but under
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, police officers may randomly stop
someone without reasonable suspicion, if the area is a likely target for
The issue was brought up in the House of Commons by MP and
amateur snapper Austin Mitchell about photographers’ rights after he
was stopped twice himself.
But Rob is now fed up of the accusations, and says police need to stop
using their authority to the extreme.
‘I can deal with the fact someone might think I’m a terrorist, but when
they start saying you’re a paedophile it really hurts,’ he said.
‘We don’t want to support people doing something illegal, but while the
police are wasting their time with me a terrorist could be planning his
A Gloucestershire Police spokeswoman said: ‘If a member of the public
becomes suspicious of an individual taking photos in public and makes a
complaint to a police officer, the officer will first discuss the matter with
‘Normally the individual is more than happy to disperse any suspicion by
showing an officer their photos and one of the benefits of digital
cameras is that this can be done on the spot.
‘However, if the officer remains suspicious as to the content of the
images or the photographers intentions they have the authority, under
the Police and Criminal Evident Act, to seize the camera and arrest the