‘Abuse of power’: Photographer detained under terrorism laws for taking pictures of town hall
Eddie Mitchell, who works as a photographer for, among other outlets, the BBC, claims to have been accosted by police officers while taking pictures of the town hall in Hove on England’s south coast.
He was stopped by officers under section 43 of the Terrorism Act as he took pictures. Section 43 allows a police officer to stop and search anyone “he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist.”
“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,” Mitchell told the Guardian.
Police say Mitchell was detained and his camera checked because he refused to give his details.
Both sides confirm the conversation was not antagonistic.
“As a result of the search, which included the camera equipment he was using, it was established that his activity was not suspicious and he was allowed to leave,” a police spokesperson said.
Sussex Police Chief Lisa Bell said her officers’ actions were “completely appropriate” and that “if the man had identified himself, then the matter could have been resolved in minutes.”
National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) policy is clear that police cannot stop people from taking pictures.
“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,” the official guidance states.