That picture is of an officer in the British Police force, specifically, on the Isle of Man (which can be seen from the cap badge). Corporal punishment of offenders was practised there until the 1980′s, I believe, and sometimes publically..
It was last practiced here in 1975, before the European Court of Human Rights got rid of it… and people still get stopped in Germany for carrying a Manx flag because the police there think it’s a swastika :)
I remember when I first saw the photogragph. It accompanied an article (I believe it was in Time Magazine) about a teenage boy on the Isle of Man who had been sentenced to a birching, and the photo was intended to depict the instrument that would be applied to his naked buttocks. I can’t remember his offense, but I know that the sentence was highly controversial, and I believe it was carried out.