Reports of man spying on students circulate after video goes viral

The unknown man was spotted on Manor Drive

An unknown man was seen walking in Hyde Park with a camera on a pole, a video shared to Facebook shows

Several students took to social media to make others aware of the odd technique the man used, with many speculating he was trying to look into bedrooms.

In a post shared on Facebook, then uploaded to YouTube, the man is seen walking through the back streets of Manor Drive whilst holding a long pole with a digital camera attached to the top.

“At first we didn’t really think much, but then we realised it was actually quite concerning as the camera was at bedroom level and could see directly into our rooms.” Lauren Price, a student living in Hyde Park, told The Leeds Tab.

The area is popular amongst burglars with Hyde Park having the highest burglary rates in Leeds behind Little London and Hunslet.

“We were a bit concerned that we could be targeted.” Price states in regards to the rumour that the man was scouting for houses to rob.

“Pretty sure what he’s doing is illegal,” one user posts in the comments of the video, with another questioning why there are “so many creeps in Hyde Park.” 

In the UK there are no laws forbidding photography of private property from a public place. There are civil proceedings that can be taken if a person is filmed without consent, and privacy laws exist to protect a person where they can expect privacy.

A representative from West Yorkshire Police states that they have “received a number of recent reports in relation to a man using a camera on a pole in the Hyde Park area.

“Those who contacted us have been updated and have been asked to call us should they have further concerns, but there is no information at present to suggest the camera was being used inappropriately.”

“The male taking photographs was a genuine workman.” Councillor for Headingley and Hyde Park, Al Garthwaite states.

“The landlord of a nearby property confirmed he had arranged for the roof of one of his properties to be assessed.”

Renters are entitled to at least 24 hours’ written notice of an inspection and reasonable notice if a landlord or hired worker needs access to their property to carry out repairs under the Housing Act 1988.

Reasonable notice could be short if urgent or emergency repairs are needed but they must still make an appointment and shouldn’t just turn up.

Ryan Gnuch, the student who took the video, claims that there was never any notice and that he had no knowledge of any appointments.

Councillor Amanda Carter, the Shadow Executive Board Member for Community Safety in Leeds, explained what students should do if they feel unsafe.

“If someone is behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable, report it.

“If it feels off, it probably is off. People should not feel as though they can’t get privacy in their own homes.”

Councillor Amanda Carter explains what students should be aware of in regards to staying safe

The video of the man comes after allegations of assault in Woodhouse Moor were also shared on social media, with the posts actually influencing people to avoid the area at night altogether.

Hyde Park is home to over 13,000 residents, with over half being students, many of whom are aware of the area’s reputation.

Last year, over 1000 cases of antisocial behavior in the area were reported to West Yorkshire Police following various acts of disorderly conduct. 

Numerous reports of a ‘child gang’ made headlines late last year after they attacked Hyde Park residents and broke into several homes.

UKCrimeStats graph showing how many cases of antisocial behaviour were reported between December 2019 and December 2020

West Yorkshire Police are yet to respond to follow up questions in regard to their statement.

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