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Police criticise 'morbid' photography -

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ELEANOR HALL: A prominent Australian media organisation has rejected claims that it is encouraging
the public to photograph accident scenes.

Police say they are seeing a disturbing increase in passersby turning into what one officer calls
"morbid desensitised voyeurs" and taking photographs of car accidents with their mobile phones.

Police says the media are partly to blame but Channel 7 says it has never run such images.

In Brisbane, Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: You've heard of train and plane spotters. Now it seems there are car crash spotters.

STEVE MONROE: We're talking about people who are either in a fairly traumatic situation where
they're trapped in a motor vehicle or even further which is more traumatic people have lost their
lives.

ANNIE GUEST: Steve Monroe is the acting superintendent of the Traffic Branch at Queensland Police.
He suspects photos of crash sites could end up on the internet. Those taking the images are usually
driving by at the time.

STEVE MONROE: If you're driving a motor vehicle and you're too busy out the window with a camera or
your mobile phone taking photos, you're distracted from what you're supposed to be doing which is
driving on the road.

ANNIE GUEST: And why do you think people are taking photographs of accident scenes?

STEVE MONROE: There's probably better social researchers out there maybe better placed to give an
opinion, but I think sometimes people, because we have so much happening in the world with reality
TV, with different crime scene TV shows nowadays, and the way we hunger for information, people
sometimes become a little bit desensitised to that, you know, we're talking about real people.

Our frustration is when we see people, and it's not everybody but the people, a very small fringe
element, not conducting themselves with what we'd think would be normal, acceptable behaviour,
where quite often the media actively encourage people to take footage of whatever they see
happening and sending it in to them so...

ANNIE GUEST: Do you think that might be a primary reason for people taking these photographs?

STEVE MONROE: I don't think it's a primary reason. It's just probably another indication of how
society is embracing emerging technologies.

ANNIE GUEST: But one of the television networks that encourages viewers to send photographs rejects
Queensland Police's comments.

The director of news at Channel 7 in Brisbane is Rob Raschke.

ROB RASCHKE: We've never encouraged people to take pictures of car crashes. We certainly do
encourage people to send us pictures of things like, you know, large weather events whether they be
cyclones or storms. I can't remember ever getting a picture of a car crash or a car accident from a
member of the public.

ANNIE GUEST: When you say you don't encourage people to take photographs of accident sites and send
them in, when you do encourage people to take photographs are you outlining what events you want or
is it generally...

ROB RASCHKE: No, fair question, there is a particular point, we've run after some stories in which
we say if you've got pictures of this please send it. The ones I can think most likely or the ones
that come to mind are weather events.

ANNIE GUEST: So have the police got it wrong in your view?

ROB RASCHKE: Oh look, I'm not saying that they've got it wrong; I don't know. It's just if they are
concerned about it, it seems odd that they haven't raised it.

ANNIE GUEST: But you've not received one of these photographs. So that being the case the police at
least as far as your network is concerned are actually not correct on this one.

ROB RASCHKE: Well, it seems odd if this is such a problem, well we're not receiving the pictures.
We're not getting them from members of the public. So who is it that's actually shooting them and
sending them to people?

ANNIE GUEST: Meanwhile the ambulance service says that anecdotal evidence would suggest that it's
not a problem for paramedics.

ELEANOR HALL: Annie Guest reporting from Brisbane.