This week a British photographer was detained by police and subjected to searches of his camera after police suspected him of terrorism.
Eddie Mitchell, a press photographer who works for media outlets such as the BBC, was taking pictures of Hove town hall on Thursday afternoon when he was approached by a member of police staff. Citing that he wasn’t breaking any laws, Mitchell declined to give the officer any of his personal details or the reasoning behind his photo taking.
He was instructed to visit a local police station to give a statement, where he was subsequently detained under section 43 of the Terrorism Act. The act gives police the right to stop and search anyone they “reasonably suspect to be a terrorist.” Sussex police confirmed that Mitchell was searched due to refusing to “provide information or identification.”
Mitchell said of the incident:
I respect wholeheartedly that the police have a job to do, but there should be clarity on people taking pictures in a public place — it is not a crime … As far as I am concerned, it is a total misuse and abuse of power.
Lisa Bell, chief superintendent of Sussex police, claims the incident could have been resolved in minutes had Mitchell co-operated.
National Police Chiefs Council guidance states: “Police should not prevent anyone from taking photographs in public. This applies equally to members of the media and public seeking to record images, who do not need a permit to photograph or film in public places.”
Were the police just doing their job? Was this photographer right to withhold his personal information?
[via The Guardian]