Eddie Mitchell was detained by Sussex police for an hour under anti-terror laws while checks were carried out on his photographs
Hove town hall
The picture of Hove town hall that Eddie Mitchell was taking when police intervened. Photograph: Eddie Mitchell

Kevin Rawlinson

Thursday 4 May 2017 22.40 BST
Last modified on Friday 5 May 2017 00.30 BST

Police have been accused of abusing their powers by a professional photographer who was detained under anti-terror laws after he was seen taking pictures of Hove town hall on Thursday. Eddie Mitchell was held for about an hour while police checked his camera.

It was eventually decided that there was no reason to believe that the press photographer, who works for outlets including the BBC, was a terrorist.

“I respect wholeheartedly that the police have a job to do,” Mitchell said, “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 declined to explain who he was or what he was doing to a passing member of police staff on the grounds that he was not breaking any laws. Both he and Sussex police agreed that the conversation was not antagonistic.

After he followed an instruction to go to the police station to give a statement, two officers detained him under anti-terror laws. “The police didn’t want to back down and neither did I. I just wanted to stand my ground,” Mitchell said.

He was detained under section 43 of the Terrorism Act, which gives officers the power to stop and search anyone “he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist”. Sussex police confirmed that Mitchell was approached while taking the pictures and searched under the Terrorism Act because he refused to “provide information or identification”.

A statement read: “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.”

The chief superintendent of Sussex police, Lisa Bell, defended her officers, saying their actions were “completely appropriate when the threat level is at severe”. She added: “If the man had identified himself, then the matter could have been resolved in minutes.” Mitchell claimed his identity was established quickly from his BBC pass and a credit card.

Sussex police were unable to answer questions on what, specifically, about Mitchell’s actions had provoked a reasonable suspicion that he was a terrorist and under what powers a member of its civilian staff had demanded an explanation and a statement from him.

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.”

Mitchell, who says he usually has a good relationship with Sussex police, has not yet decided whether or not to make a complaint. In 2014, he was arrested by another force while operating a drone professionally.

The trained drone pilot, who had approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to commercially operate drones, was released, and no further action was taken against him.

via Photographer held after taking pictures of Hove town hall | UK news | The Guardian

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