back to article We are 'heroes,' says police chief whose force frisked a photographer

The chief constable of Sussex Police has labelled his staff “everyday heroes” for using the UK's Terrorism Act to stop and search a photographer taking pictures of Hove Town Hall. Professional snapper Eddie Mitchell was detained for an hour by police in the south coast town on Thursday (May 4). A police employee who was not a …

Anonymous Coward

Fixed that for you

Being a constable is what gives police extra legal powers that lets them freely do things members of parliament would commit a criminal offence by doing, such as abusing power.

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Re: Fixed that for you

Well, you know you've reached the level of a police state when you have to answer questions from the local station's admin staff waving a fucking door pass at you.

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Holmes

Again?

How fed up I am with these stories.

The Police (at least the ones I have talked to) are generally helpful, friendly people.

As an organisation they tend to be shite, as many media outlets report.

And as for the plastic plods, don't get me started. I was once given a parking ticket by one for blocking my own driveway. It was I that put the "It is illegal to park here" notice. It wasn't but it helped deter some railway commuters! The plastic woman thought she should act though. I did enjoy the joke with the Town Parking supervisor over a beer later!

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Re: Again?

Technically speaking your "plastic plob" was correct. If you were obstructing the highway (which includes access to it) the fact that it was your own access you were obstructing is neither here nor there. There is limited public interest in prosecution but it does happen occasionally.

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Re: Again?

Obstructing the highway is a very useful(?) catch-all. If you are parked anywhere on the highway you are obstructing it.

I remember many years ago I was with someone who was given a ticket for obstructing, because cars couldn't get past. She pointed out that the other side of the street had been clear, with plenty of room to pass when she'd parked there. Another car had then come and parked on the other side, leaving no room to get past. She still had to pay the fine.

And in fact, though not fair in that instance, it is probably necessary. A few years back I was driving along a narrow road behind Highgate school during their school run one evening. The road only had enough space to allow cars in one direction at a time, but there were a few spaces that drivers were using to give way to each other. The car ahead of me pulled in to one of these spaces, the oncoming car moved forward, expecting the driver to then carry on into the space behind him. It's what the previous pairs of cars had all done, slowly allowing all the cars to weave past one another. But this one didn't. Instead of moving forward into the space created she calmly got out of the car, locked it and walked off -leaving the entire road locked up. She should have been. There's never a copper when you need one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Again?

I am wondering what race the photographer might be identified as and why the woman thought that waving a police ID card around was not impersonating an officer of the law.

I am thinking either photographer was a bit dark or he was lippy, ether way not really justifying arrest or the waste of our money. IMHO until arrest under this regulation requires some form of justification in writing at the time of the arrest then abuses of this kind will remain common place.

Arresting someone for "looking at me in a funny way" was supposed to be a joke but no one is laughing anymore

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Re: Again?

I thinking you have a visual problem. You didn't look at Eddie picture in the tweet, nor read the story properly. Eddie is not dark (other than maybe a tan from living on the South Coast which gets more sun than the North). Eddie was not being lippy, he was not giving his name to someone who had no authority to ask for his name, in other words a civilian member of the police.

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Re: Again?

@ Adam52

Technically you are totally wrong. The law relating to blocking of a dropped kerb makes a point of stating that the homeowner may park there, or anyone with permission of the homeowner (but not for reward).

Of course, this is dependent on there being no other rules being broken like blocking the carriageway or yellow lines.

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Re: Again?

The question is this - how many times are ACPO going to need to put out guidance on this before forces start paying attention.

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Re: Again?

"Technically speaking your "plastic plob" was correct. If you were obstructing the highway (which includes access to it) the fact that it was your own access you were obstructing is neither here nor there. There is limited public interest in prosecution but it does happen occasionally."

No, no, no. Access to the highway is important, yes. So if someone is parked on a driveway and you drive behind them, without their permission, and block them in, you have committed a civil offence. (Although in Birmingham when this happened recently, the police didn't want to know.) If the driveway is unoccupied however, no offence has been committed, even if the property owner cannot enter their own driveway.

I got done for this once, and paid the penalty because I was 17 and a dick for parking where I did. But I was technically innocent, and if I'd have known the law then I could have appealed.

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Happy

Re: Again?

If the driveway is unoccupied however, no offence has been committed, even if the property owner cannot enter their own driveway.

I discovered this once, when someone parked on my drive. The police happened to be passing, and I asked them what I could do. They told me that, strictly, there was nothing they could do. But they found the car wasn't properly locked, and helped me push the car off my drive and across the road onto a yellow line. Then they gave it a parking ticket.

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Re: Again?

"Technically you are totally wrong. The law relating to blocking of a dropped kerb makes a point of stating that the homeowner may park there"

Oh no it doesn't.

Construction and Use Regs say:

"No person in charge of a motor vehicle or trailer shall cause or permit the vehicle to stand on a road so as to cause any unnecessary obstruction of the road"

And Highways Act says:

"If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale".

There are various definitions about what constitutes obstruction by plants, but nothing about homeowners.

You may be confused by the Traffic Management Act 2004 which relates to access to *footpaths* in designated areas and not highways in general.

At the moment my downvote count for the original post is showing that uninformed but opinionated El Reg commentards outnumber the informed by 3:1.

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Re: Again?

But your driveway isn't part of the highway. So, someone parking across it is stopping you accessing the highway, but is not stopping you having 'free passage along a highway'. That's why you can technically park across a driveway when it is empty, but not when there is a car parked there.

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Re: Again?

Traffic Management Act 2004 (c. 18)

Part 6 — Civil enforcement of traffic contraventions

86 Prohibition of parking at dropped footways etc.

(1) In a special enforcement area a vehicle must not be parked on the carriageway adjacent to a footway, cycle track or verge where—

(a) the footway, cycle track or verge has been lowered to meet the level of the carriageway for the purpose of—

(i) assisting pedestrians crossing the carriageway,

(ii) assisting cyclists entering or leaving the carriageway, or

(iii) assisting vehicles entering or leaving the carriageway across the footway, cycle track or verge; or

(b) the carriageway has, for a purpose within paragraph (a)(i) to (iii), been raised to meet the level of the footway, cycle track or verge.

This is subject to the following exceptions.

(2) The first exception is where the vehicle is parked wholly within a designated

parking place or any other part of the carriageway where parking is specifically

authorised.

A “designated parking place” means a parking place designated by order under section 6, 9, 32(1)(b) or 45 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27).

(3) The second exception is where the vehicle is parked outside residential premises by or with the consent (but not consent given for reward) of the occupier of the premises.

This exception does not apply in the case of a shared driveway.

(There are a bunch of other exceptions that all relate to emergency services or deliveries.)

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Re: Again?

"I remember many years ago I was with someone who was given a ticket for obstructing, because cars couldn't get past. She pointed out that the other side of the street had been clear, with plenty of room to pass when she'd parked there. Another car had then come and parked on the other side, leaving no room to get past. She still had to pay the fine."

I got two tickets for parking on the same bit of road in bolton once. The road is pretty much wide enough for one car but has a loading bay - I was taking kit into an office so I parked in the loading bay, came back to find a ticket for blocking the road despite being in a clearly marked bay. Next time I pulled up half in the bay and half on the pavement to allow cars to squeeze past - got a ticket for parking on the pavement when there was a bay available... Had to pay both tickets.

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Re: Again?

"I discovered this once, when someone parked on my drive. The police happened to be passing, and I asked them what I could do. They told me that, strictly, there was nothing they could do. But they found the car wasn't properly locked, and helped me push the car off my drive and across the road onto a yellow line. Then they gave it a parking ticket."

I'd have phoned a local builders merchant and ordered a few tonnes of hardcore to be delivered. Have it left at the end of the drive. When they come to pick up their car tell them that you are planning on landscaping your garden and should have it all moved within the month.

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Re: Again?

For crying out loud, what happened to basic English comprehension skills.

Prohibition of parking at dropped *footways* etc.

It's nothing to do with obstruction of a highway, which is a criminal, not civil. Police/CPS deal with criminal matters. Prosecutions are for crimes. completely irrelevant legislation doesn't make your case.

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"such as kicking down doors and arresting people, Tasering them, etc."

None of those acts are specifically powers of a Constable. There is no legal authority for use of a Taser beyond that available to anyone else. You could have gone with possession of a firearm, speeding, driving without a seatbelt or arresting without warrant on suspicion.

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WTF?

So are you saying that i can walk down the High Street with a Taser in my pocket (or utility belt) and not have any concern about being stopped, jumped on, handcuffed and arrested? Perish the thought that i might actually point it at someone!

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No. Perhaps if you read what I wrote you might understand.

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Pepper spray is probably a better example. If a copper sprays you it's all jolly fun and in the public interest; if you spray them back it's a firearms offence.

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Pepper spray is a delicious example!

Take about a cup(235ml) of good white or cider vinegar, put it in a blender with a dozen or so ripe habeneros (seeds & all ... ghost, scorpion, reaper, whatever), a teaspoon (5g) of sea salt (not that nasty, metallic tasting, iodine-infused "table salt"), and about a tablespoon each of honey(20g) & turbinado/demerara sugar(12g) (muscovado or piloncillo also work, if you can find 'em). A tablespoon of chipotle powder (10g) (or smoked cumin) adds a nice smoky note, but isn't required. Blend well. Add a little more vinegar or another habenero if needed, to get a Tabasco-ish consistency. It's usable immediately, but bottle it & stick it in the back of your fridge for a couple months and it just gets better ... A turkey baster with the plastic bit from an eye-dropper stuck on the end works well for re-filling old Tabasco[tm] bottles.

You call it a force multiplier, I call it a delightful condiment. I wonder what Plod's take on the above recipe might be ...

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Re: Pepper spray is a delicious example!

Or, also on a cooking theme ... knives. Long, sharp, pointy ones.

I spoke to a friend on the way to work the other day. He's a chef here in Sonoma, California. He routinely carries his knives back and forth from home to work. He walks. His skin is brown. What would his life expectancy be in Sussex?

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Re: Pepper spray is a delicious example!

"He routinely carries his knives back and forth from home to work. He walks. His skin is brown. What would his life expectancy be in Sussex?"

Longer than in California? For a start, beat officers in Sussex aren't usually armed. However, if he carries the knives with blades exposed, I'd expect an adverse reaction in most places. If he's carrying them packed in a bag and doesn't try to grab and unpack them when challenged (i.e., acts normally), then I'd expect very little effect on his life expectancy anywhere.

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Re: Pepper spray is a delicious example!

"If he's carrying them packed in a bag and doesn't try to grab and unpack them when challenged (i.e., acts normally), then I'd expect very little effect on his life expectancy anywhere."

Not affecting his life expectancy but this one is ridiculous: http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/man-caught-knife-said-needed-12992281

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Re: Pepper spray is a delicious example!

re: http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/man-caught-knife-said-needed-12992281

"He must pay £625 prosecution costs plus £85 victim surcharge and the knife will be forfeited and destroyed."

The whole situation seems quite absurd, but to havve to pay a victim surcharge on top?

What the actual fuck?

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Re: Pepper spray is a delicious example!

Not affecting his life expectancy but this one is ridiculous: http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/man-caught-knife-said-needed-12992281

Yup, been there done that. And for those who question the use of such a knife in such circumstances, it's like this: Packaging on some furniture is fairly bulky and can be annoying to handle at times. You want a knife that is good quality for doing the cutting etc, but is comfortably small to drop into a pocket quickly when not in use, and unlike "box cutters" won't be annoying in itself when you try to bend (eg to get a proper grip on the item being moved).

As you say, that case is ridiculous.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pepper spray is a delicious example!

A little scrote burgled our house a while back. He was picked up with some of our stuff not long afterwards, and in the end was charged with possession of stolen goods. He had several prior convictions so was never going to admit to breaking and entering, even though some evidence pointed that way if it'd ever gone to court.

But one of our things he'd nicked and was carrying around was a knife. And as a repeat and uncooperative offender he wasn't in Plod's good books. So they whacked a charge of possession of a concealed weapon (or whatever it is technically) onto the sheet as well, which didn't help him in sentencing. We got the knife back after it'd been held as evidence for a while; it wasn't destroyed because the police didn't care about the knife itself.

I don't know the details of the case in this thread, but "[t]hey arrested Azam on Wellfield Road" suggests he wasn't just a random bystander. They may have picked him up on something else, perhaps he was "known to police", perhaps they used the knife charge to strengthen another charge.

As in many dealings with the authorities, not being a dick about something helps a lot with making sure they won't go looking for other reasons to make your life difficult. Not saying that's right, but it's reality.

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Re: Pepper spray is a delicious example!

"What would his life expectancy be in Sussex?"

Very long, providing he doesn't bring a camera with him.

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So, Giles tries really hard to see his officers as everyday heroes? "Tries" really hard but really thinks that they are buffons.

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Anonymous Coward

Meanwhile, a real "Terrorist®" would have secretly photographed and cased the Hove Shitty Hall properly, and have been more than friendly to the local madwoman pretending to be a police constable, while secretly placing a "device®" into her purse. "Threat Level" is how your government keeps the muggles in line and fearful of those nasty "Terrorists®" that are clearly hiding behind every corner, and bush. Beware, Muggles! Beware! Turn in your neighbor! See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

There is no lower limit to intelligence that would keep an officer of the law from assuming his/her duties. You can replace "officer of the law" with "Desktop Windows Administrator" if you prefer. It is known.

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Exactly my thoughts but I think the end of the sentence has been left out;

"I totally support and am immensely proud of my officers and staff and I try really hard to recognise personally their ‘everyday heroism’. (” but it's bloody difficult when they act like complete twats.")

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Big Brother

Beware, Muggles! Beware! Turn in your neighbor!

-

Betray your friends and family!

Fabulous prizes to be won!

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Sorry Eddie, but some of us may be wondering how much you egged this along. Not saying you did, but my experience suggests there are as many dicks among photographers as among police officers. (i.e. most are not dicks) How do we judge?

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> How do we judge?

Innocent until proven a twat is a useful yard stick

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Innocent until proven a twat is a useful yard stick

Does that work for the police too?

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Childcatcher

Devils TwoPiece sez..

Maybe Eddie were dressed and acting like a Lefty, i.e. the terrorists best friends and supporters!

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@albaleo

"Does that work for the police too?"

Yes. The photographer was not breaking any law. The police employee had no legal grounds to detain him. I think that's proof of twattery.

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Re: @albaleo

Sorry, but I don't think twattery has anything to do with the law. I'm not breaking any law if I refuse to answer my wife's questions, but something tells me I ought to.

The article says Mitchell refused to answer an unsworn constable's questions. I've no idea about the circumstances or the questions. Perhaps the constable was a twat or perhaps he or she was new and nervous and/or Mitchell was behaving like an idiot and/or whatever. Not answering questions might seem a bit childish if the questions were reasonable and answering them would have made the police officer's life easier. (Then we wouldn't have to have this discussion.)

I accept that perhaps he was treated wrongly. But as the article seems to be judging the police, doesn't the innocent until proven guilty argument lie with them?

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Mushroom

Re: @albaleo

There is no legal obligation to answer the questions of some junior paper pusher waving an I work in a police station badge in your face. If they can't show you a warrant card, they can fcuk right off.

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Re: @albaleo

I think that's proof of twattery. getting close to misfeasance in public office. If they'd actually arrested him it would have got really interesting.

The Chief Constable deserves an Oscar. That's the Oscar Munoz award for supporting his staff beyond all reason.

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Re: @albaleo

Being a twat works both ways. Police Officers and staff are feeling a bit sensitive right now, because there are credible rumours that a bunch of nutters are running around trying to kill them. And one was successful quite recently. Yes, that's unlikely to be a photographer but when you pay police civilian pay rates you don't get very clever staff. On top of that they've got a Prime Minister who is hell bent on making them look bad so that she can privatise the Police.

"Innocent until proven a twat is a useful yard stick

Does that work for the police too?"

On this point - not really. You might think that there's a cover up and conspiracy behind every corner but the reality is that forces will hang individuals out to dry on the slightest pretext so that they look good. And you've got an Inspector of Constabulary who knows nothing about policing but was appointed by Theresa May to shake things up. I know police officers who have been on notice of murder charges for 10 years now because they tried to arrest a drug dealer outside a school, but he died running away.

In this case, the staff member's boss really should have taken them aside and said "don't be an idiot, he's clearly a f**king photographer" and that should be the end of it. As it is the Chief Constable feels obliged to defend or crucify, and has gone for defend.

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Twaddle

There's always one isn't there? I have to say that smacks a little troll-ish. The man was just standing up for his rights. If it is not illegal to photograph in a public place, why should he be required to identify himself - especially as the original inquisitor (it appears) was not actually a police officer? I thought this harassing photographers under false pretences malarkey had died a death with better education in the force. I well remember a case from a few years back near me where someone was also arrested in Chatham under the pretence of the anti-terrorism act for taking innocuous pictures of shops and some demolition work. The original jobs-worth who wanted ID (which was refused - and quite rightly so) was, I believe, not a police officer but a jumped-up council official with no ID himself, who then called the police. The photographer was eventually "de-arrested" but not after having been thrown into the back of a police van. I myself had some aggravation from some army types, milling around a road accident that I was photographing. I was told in no uncertain terms (in front of witnesses) that if I had included any of them in the pictures, they would confiscate both camera and film. I stood my ground and stated the law, also inferring that I would sue the pants off them if they tried it, and the person concerned backed off. Unenlightened security guards are also quite often belligerent with a lack of knowledge of the law and there are numerous stories about them trying to stop photography in a public place with a heavy hand.

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Re: @albaleo

"The article says Mitchell refused to answer an unsworn constable's questions."

What's an unsworn constable? A constable becomes that by swearing an oath of office - go back & read the bootnote.

There's no indication from anything I've read that this woman was even a PCSO - had she been and been on duty she'd have been uniformed. She just tried to throw her weight about with an ID card which could have been knocked up with a printer and a laminating holder that can be bought off eBay for pennies. It's no evidence of anything except to her employer's staff. Outside police property it means nothing. In fact such things are regular props of scammers.

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Re: @albaleo

In this case, the staff member's boss really should have taken them aside and said "don't be an idiot, he's clearly a f**king photographer"

Not really. This would imply that the staff member was generally empowered to throw her weight about and act like a constable and that her only problem was her poor choice of occasion on which to do this. As far as I can tell from the various reports this was not the case. If she was a purely civilian staff member then what she was doing should have resulted in a caution from a police officer about impersonating a police officer; it should really go beyond line management.

It should be a nice opportunity for the local press to set up an interview with crime prevention about this sort of thing: http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/NEWS/14634633.SCAM_ALERT__Fraudsters_impersonate_police_officers_to_con_people_out_of_cash/ and then drop this incident on them, asking if it helps having their own civvies teaching people to accept dodgy identification.

I should add that I do understand the police about being targeted. Not only did I know a couple of police officers in N Ireland who were murdered, I could easily have been collateral damage when a booby-trapped item was brought in for examination. However it really does not help the police by their setting up "us and them" situations with the law-abiding public in this way.

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Re: @albaleo

Which should be making people ask the embarrassing question that if the threat level is so high why was a copper in his own in such a sensitive position and why he was not,from what I can learn ,wearing the right equipment,the plod wtc were lucky this time that it wasn't a proper,well organised attack because he was of abdiolutely no use in stopping anybody and it seems to have taken better prepared police a while to react,if it had been a proper attack ,it stood a pretty good chance of succeeding..

These events happen in seconds,for such a supposed sensitive Ares,the police seem to have been caught flat footed,again..

There will one day be a properly organised attack carriers out by experienced,trained individuals,it stands a very high chance of success,specially if there are multiple co-ordinates groups and they use explosive devices during and after attacks,these are only coppers with very limited training,limited firearms use and very few are ex-troops with battle experience,if security is so important why leave it to amateurs,well meaning amatywrs but still amateurs..

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Anonymous Coward

@Adam 52

"a Prime Minister who is hell bent on making them look bad so that she can privatise the Police."

The main people who have been making the police look bad in recent years are the Police themselves. It goes back even before May was at the Home Office, where she (understandably) "shut down" ACPO Ltd. Though like a lot of what she said and did, and is saying and (not) doing, it was smoke and mirrors, and the ACPO was just rebranded (as the article rightly points out).

Strong and stable lunatics.

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Re: @albaleo

"Not really. This would imply that the staff member was generally empowered to throw her weight about and act like a constable and that her only problem was her poor choice of occasion on which to do this."

We can't really tell what happened from the reporting. The "acting like a Constable" bit could easily be inaccurate interpretation or exaggeration. In general though employees everywhere are encouraged to challenge people acting suspiciously at or near their place of work. This person was being stupid, but once they'd decided to escalate then the real Constables would have got in trouble if they'd ignored it. Do nothing and a real chance of internal disciplinary action or prosecution for misconduct in a public office or use perfectly legal powers granted by *parliament*.

"However it really does not help the police by their setting up "us and them" situations with the law-abiding public in this way."

This I fully agree with, but it's a situation we, the public, have created (*) by removing officer discretion and putting the police in a no-win situation. They act and are criticised, or they don't act and prosecuted.

(*) Mostly. There are self important people in all jobs, the Police try to weed them out during selection. Unfortunately those characteristics tend to get them promoted, just like any other company.

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Joke

Re: @albaleo

"Not answering questions might seem a bit childish if the questions were reasonable "

It might have been a feeble attempt at identity theft or simply a distraction while a confederate attempted the theft of of some likely very juicy photography equipment. She wasn't a uniformed officer and anyone can print out a badge. Be careful out there!

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