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 …

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            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.

    1. uncommon_sense
      Childcatcher

      Devils TwoPiece sez..

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Devils TwoPiece sez..

        like a Lefty, i.e. the terrorists best friends and supporters!

        I didn't realise that Noo Yawk was such a hotbed of radical socialists - after all, they supported the IRA for years.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Devils TwoPiece sez..

          "Noo Yawk ... a hotbed of radical socialists - after all, they supported the IRA for years."

          Boston (MA) too.

          Freedom fighters? Terrists?

          Who gets to choose?

    2. David 45

      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Troll?

      There always seems to be one commentator in cases like this who suggests that the victim stirred things up for himself. I would certainly be annoyed if it happened to me. In fact, it has - not with the police but some army jobsworth in charge of a group of squaddies who were directing traffic around an accident. The guy told me, in no uncertain terms, that if any of his "lads" were in the photographs I had been taking, he would have to confiscate either my camera or the film. I put him straight.

  1. Tikimon Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Typical...

    If you ever manage to force a cop to admit error, make sure you immortalize this glowing one-off event for history. Closely related to how they will close ranks to protect one of their number, not matter what heinous crime that officer has committed.

    Throw in some illegal spying and does anybody wonder why nobody much trusts the police anymore?

    1. Kiwi
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Typical...

      If you ever manage to force a cop to admit error, make sure you

      ...have plenty of voice and (and preferably video) recorders on your person, car, and liberally scattered around your home and workplace. Make sure you record every interaction with them from the moment you become aware they're going to "spend some quality time with you". Make sure your lawyer knows this. Make sure you're on first-name terms with a good lawyer. On, and get "litigation" insurance - for you may well need it.

      Some forces are OK. Some, well... Petty, vindictive and vengeful are NOT words that would describe many in the NZ police force - they're not strong enough. There are many older officers who are incredible people, and many more who are in a race to bring as much dis-repute to the badge as they can!

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    #EverydayHeroes

    In 2017, this means managing to exhibit the amazing intellectual power and daring of a ferret on crack, so I support this presumably queen-approved quality label.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: #EverydayHeroes

      Don't worry, mate. Sussex Police have nothing useful to do with their time, other than brushing serious crime under the carpet.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About time the photographers struck back

    It isn't illegal to photograph a public building from a public place. The CPS will just not risk setting precident by actually prosecuting someone for say photographing Hove town Hall from the road outside.

    Perhaps if 100 or 200 people turned up and all took photos of the place at the same time, they might get the message.

    Especially as a simple google search revealed

    http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/category_id__941.aspx

    Which has several pictures of the place ready for all the possible terrorists, sorry pople of the world to see without getting off their backsides.

    I even have a sheet of paper that details the limits to which the PLOD can go to when having an issue with a photographer in a public place. Ironically, it was issued by a Chief Constable circa 2010

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: About time the photographers struck back

      It isn't illegal to photograph a public building from a public place.

      I went on a tour of the old London Underground head office last year (55 Broadway). It's across the road from New Scotland Yard. Whilst we were on the roof, we were told we weren't allowed to take pictures of the building across the road.

      Guess what I made sure to take lots of pictures of...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: About time the photographers struck back

        I've never been bounced by the police while engaging in photography or filming, even as part of a news crew (though they have on occasion politely pointed out that my vantage point was perhaps more exposed than they considered safe from known-to-be-armed suspects).

        I have however been bounced - quite properly, though for laughable reasons - by security guards. Most recently, from a large outdoor shopping area of some architectural interest, in which I was using a 4x5 camera on top of a seven foot tripod. Taking images with that equipment takes several minutes just to set up, and I had made half a dozen images from various locations within the site when the security chap came up, identified himself, and politely told me that the area was private property. As such, the owners had the right to forbid photography within it - so I moved. No issue - though he did not have an answer to the question of mobile phones and the cameras therein. Also no issue taking a very similar image from outside the boundary - unmarked, but only a couple of feet from where I was,

        Nice to meet a fellow in a sometimes tricky job doing it well and also properly briefed on the rules. As the article states: it is permissible to photograph anyone or anything visible from public land, with very few exceptions - in particular, if a building or area is covered by the official secrets act it is clearly marked 'thou shalt not photograph'.

        As others have pointed out - in this case, the police employee was strictly in the wrong. If she had concerns about the photographer's actions, she should have asked one of her police colleagues to deal; as it was she was throwing her weight about, and that's not acceptable.

        He was certainly in the right and in spite of the senior officer's later comment there was neither need nor requirement for him either to explain his actions, give his name, or accompany the employee anywhere. He might be considered a bit of a dick for standing on his rights but I don't blame him - I would have done the same and for a simple reason: if you don't stand on your rights, somehow they mysteriously disappear.

        I wonder how long the lady in question was bollocked for behind closed doors?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: About time the photographers struck back

          it is permissible to photograph anyone or anything visible from public land, with very few exceptions - in particular, if a building or area is covered by the official secrets act it is clearly marked 'thou shalt not photograph'.

          Well, there's also this mysterious "Section 44 designated area" which refers to an area that has been designated so special that police have stop & search powers without having to give a reason, and those areas are not actually indicated because not all of them are static. I think some railway stations are under it. However, the people who police those are generally a bit more experienced and less prone to the Hitler complex so you usually get a warning.

          With respect to deleting pictures, I had one idiot try that once.

          I told him that was not going to happen because:

          1 - he did not identify himself correctly as a policeman

          2 - he did not cite correct cause and legislation under which he would have those powers

          3 - if I was not being arrested, he had no business telling me what I could or could not make pictures of

          4 - if I was being arrested, he should not touch my camera either until forensics got here as it would be interfering with evidence and the chain of evidence, which would look rather bad on the arrest record.

          5 - in the case of an arrest, I would already like to thank him for the extra money as it would clearly be wrongful and would definitely be followed up.

          It is worth noting I had made sure I had witnesses, though.

          I have no problem with even just security guards who are just trying to do a job and politely ask me not to take pictures. I tend to even beat them to it by asking upfront if I feel there may be an issue as it's not my intention to make their live miserable and I like my privacy just like anyone else.

          However, anyone who storms at me like some wannabe Reichsführer will discover that I am not easily intimidated and that I have a spectacularly malevolent sense of humour that then comes out to play. Because they're worth it :)...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trip to the 'US of K' anyone?

    ..........Reg articles often focus on how unfriendly the US is becoming...

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/14/reg_guide_to_data_security_when_entering_us/

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/21/campaign_against_digital_border_searches/

    ================

    ..........Who wants to to visit the UK after this story plus this other article today:

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/04/uk_bulk_surveillance_powers_draft/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trip to the 'US of K' anyone?

      "Who wants to to visit the UK after this story plus this other article today:"

      At least visitors have a choice.

      The BBC iPlayer currently has the Ken Clark series "Civilisation" from 1969. Expecting a visual treat of art and sculpture - it was amazing how many times he talked about, and illustrated, the carnage wrought by the general mob fired up by a demagogue.

  5. hellwig Silver badge

    Power tends to Corrupt...

    And we've given absolute power to some of the stupidest people out there.

    Under what law does this man have to acknowledge and un-badged civil servant more than any other citizen out there? If a Starbucks barista had approached him and asked what he was doing, would he have been any more/less responsible for answering? I love movies that portray CIA agents walking around waving their CIA credentials like it makes them special. The CIA isn't a law enforcement agency, they have no authority anywhere. If someone with no authority challenges you, you are in your right to blow them off, are you not?

    (speaking from a U.S. perspective)

    TSA agents are bad enough, with their week-long training seminar making them lords of our vacation and business travel. Flight Attendants? Do they even get that much training on how to handle passengers? But their word is law on the airplane (and they will "deplane" your ass in a heartbeat if you challenge them). Border guards taking it upon themselves to interpret the constitution and seize your personal property (EVEN if you are a citizen), ridiculous.

    I almost feel sorry for the terrorists (not really, just saying it as a gauge of how over it all I am). Think about how hard they have to work just to terrorize us more than our own governments these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Power tends to Corrupt...

      "Think about how hard they have to work just to terrorize us more than our own governments these days."

      The whole point of the tactic of terrorism is to provoke the government into restricting the freedom of the society they are targeting. We only pay lip service to that putative war time slogan "Keep Calm - and Carry On".

      The UK WWII identity card laws were only finally repealed in the 1950s after a scandal. IIRC A middle-class motorist was arrested for not showing his ID card to a policeman on demand.

      1. grizewald

        Re: Power tends to Corrupt...

        > The whole point of the tactic of terrorism is to provoke the government into restricting the freedom of the society they are targeting.

        Sorry, but you have that completely backwards.

        The whole point of continually exaggerating the risks of terrorism and lying about the causes of it is to give governments plausible justifications for restricting personal freedoms and dismantling personal privacy.

        We're already getting to the point where if you don't agree with having your personal life scrutinised in minute detail by civil servants you are by implication in league with "the terrorists".

        I wonder how much longer it will be before expressing an opinion that does not agree with the official line becomes a criminal matter.

        1. Vic

          Re: Power tends to Corrupt...

          Sorry, but you have that completely backwards

          No, the OP is correct.

          The whole point of continually exaggerating the risks of terrorism and lying about the causes of it is to give governments plausible justifications for restricting personal freedoms and dismantling personal privacy

          That's a different point - and also true. So we have the situation where authoritarian governments and terrorists feed each other's agenda.

          There's only one way that ends...

          Vic.

    2. uncommon_sense
      Unhappy

      Re: Power tends to Corrupt...

      >I almost feel sorry for the terrorists (not really, just saying it as a gauge of how over it all I am). Think about how hard they have to work just to terrorize us more than our own governments these days.<

      Yes, I imagine hearing OBL sniggering in his watery grave, while Certain Others are laughing all the way to the ATM.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Power tends to Corrupt...

      All good except for the part about flight attendants. By US law (and much of the first world) you are obliged to obey a flight crew's reasonable instructions. If you are battling them on whether you can have your fondleslab out, play your music without headphones or won't hang up the phone, you aren't in a good position. If you haven't read and understood the contract you agreed to when you purchased your ticket, don't bang on about "your rights"; you probably don't have many. If they asked you to peel down and dance in the aisles because the video player has a fault and they need some entertainment, you can decline. "Handling people" isn't done much better by sworn officers. TSA agents are people that haven't been able to get a job in fast food, so don't expect them to even be able to give concise directions to the loo. If they tell you to stop, it's best to obey them or they'll sit on you and you've seen the size of them. It could hurt.

      1. Vic

        Re: Power tends to Corrupt...

        By US law (and much of the first world) you are obliged to obey a flight crew's reasonable instructions

        *Technically*, you're obliged to follow the Captain's lawful instructions.

        But in practice, there's precious little difference.

        Vic.

    4. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Power tends to Corrupt...

      Again on flight attendants -- you have to obey them just as you would the crew members of s ship. And when the plane (or ship) is in trouble, they do their damnedst to save your life.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Nah, I totally respect the Cops..."

    Whatever happened to this country? People having respect for cops? We're getting too like America.

    He didn't even call them fascist pigs. Sad.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Christoph Silver badge

    adding that if Mitchell had “identified himself” to the woman employee, “the matter would have been resolved in minutes.”

    All you have to do to avoid being detained by the plod is to grovel subserviently to their slightest whim, and tug your forelock while doing it.

    There is no law that you are required to identify yourself to every puffed-up busybody who demands it.

    Are they really so incompetent that they seriously think that a terrorist would stand there prominently waving a camera in full visibility?

    They could wear a pocket video recorder (over 1,000 hits on an amazon search) and wander past getting a hi resolution stream of pictures from every angle, while showing no suspicious or unusual behaviour whatever.

    Then send a drone over for some aerial shots.

    Or just look at google maps, or search for existing photos on the web.

    What have Sussex plod been smoking?

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      The Rats!

      @Christoph

      What have Sussex plod been smoking?

      Perhaps a spot inventory check on the evidence locker is called for.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-39814446

    2. silverfern

      @ Christoph:

      "There is no law that you are required to identify yourself to every puffed-up busybody who demands it."

      What about the police in general? Do you not have to give them your name, address & DOB if required to do so?

      Tangentally, you are required to identify yourself to the police here in Germany with an official picture ID (they will accept DLs unofficially.) If you refuse to cooperate, you can be taken down to the local police station where other methods, such as fingerprinting, can be employed to establish your identity. And if you refuse to hand over your fingerprints, force can be used. Charming. (They seem to have a thing about knowing who you are here.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        (They seem to have a thing about knowing who you are here.)

        AFAIK that's the exact reason why the whole ID thing is frowned upon in the UK..

      2. SolidSquid

        The rules are kind of... odd, since iirc it varies depending on why the police are stopping you (stop and account vs stop and search for example), but generally there's very little information you're legally required to provide unless you're under suspicion of a crime

      3. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
        Happy

        @silverfern ref Germany.

        "Don't give him your name Pike". PP

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      No need for pocket video recorder

      On a cycle, with video recording kit on helmet / bike as applicable.

      Not sure if it's yet reached the stage of majority of (non casual) cyclists going kitted out to always record their journeys, just in case of an incident, but an increasing number of people who regularly commute by cycle have helmet cam or bike mounted cam recording all their journey.

      Easy for someone of malicious intent, to use this type of "hidden in plain sight" method, essentially zero risk of capture (so long as dont do anything stupid (such as several successive laps of point of interest) that would stop any examined film from looking like legit journey recording)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      adding that if Mitchell had “identified himself” to the woman employee, “the matter would have been resolved in minutes.”

      As in "I am definitely not a terrorist" ?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It reminds me of the music hall "Gendarmes Duet" song from 1859

    We're public guardians bold, yet wary

    And of ourselves we take good care

    To risk our precious lives we're chary

    When anger looms, we're never there

    But when we meet a helpless woman

    Or little boys that do no harm

    We run them in, we run them in

    We run them in, we run them in

    We show them we're the bold gendarmes

    http://monologues.co.uk/musichall/Songs-G/Gendarmes-Duet.htm

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is that followup is now ESSENTIAL.

    The major problem I see here is not that the actions by the wannabe cops were quite frankly a wanton abuse of power and the anti-terror legislation, but that those errors were not acknowledged by Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell and thus no apology was given. Mistakes can happen by the lower ranks, but the Chief Superintendent has no excuse for not correcting the mishap, she is supposed to know the law she alleges to enforce and she should have been the one to say "mea culpa, people occasionally get a bit overzealous".

    Thus, events seem to suggest that either Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell does not know the law, or considers herself and her staff above them, using threat levels as a means to excuse their actions. That is unacceptable and requires immediate remediation, if not by her superior, then by court. The only thing that really should NOT happen is acceptance because there is no excuse (and worse, "getting away with it" will encourage a repeat).

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: The problem is that followup is now ESSENTIAL.

      Haven't well all met, at some point, the low self-esteem individual who craves some "authority" and looks for any opportunityto exercise it so they can feel better about themself.

      When these people inevitably show themselves they should lose their ID pass and the job that goes with it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem is that followup is now ESSENTIAL.

        When these people inevitably show themselves they should lose their ID pass and the job that goes with it.

        Nah, usually they get degraded to parking fines, which is why those people are quite often* of depraved character.

        * Not all, though, but good ones are rare because it's really about making money, not about enforcing correct sharing of a limited resource

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem is that followup is now ESSENTIAL.

          This is why Leeds city council moved away from bonuses for fines. And why it's only if you're taking the piss did you get a ticket (parking In disabled bays, double yellas or taking bays in a twatish manor for example) and after having seen the inside of a holding cell over a pen knife (locking blade at 3 inches long at a public place) and getting released with out charge (I had a reason for carrying it before I entered the public place and forgot it was in my bag) I know that they can see sense.

          That said. There's nothing like a pen pusher with a jumped up sense of authority the world over..

          Annon. Because the wife still doesn't know where the pen knife went

  11. Graybyrd
    Big Brother

    Grandma Isis

    Forget the quick 'walk-by snap' of the photographer. What of the hours-long detailed study & recording of the vulnerable Public Edifice by amateur artist Grandmother Iris Isis Weaverly-Smyth of Lower Upton-on-Estuary visiting family for a fortnight. She sets up her easel, sketch pad, pencils, paints & brushes and proceeds to study--in infinite detail--every feature, entrance, approach, hidden surveillance point, and traffic patterns. Obviously an ISIS advance scout!

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It would appear from these reports that a woman was impersonating a police officer. Has she been arrested for this offence?

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Sussex Police Training Video?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnlIWpZSPXU

    Clouseau: How can a blind man be a lookout?

    Dreyfus: How can an idiot be a policeman?

    Clouseau: It's very simple, you just enlist.

  15. tedleaf

    Kick the silly cows legs out from under her,sit on her,use the cameras straps etc to hog tie her,phone "real" police and tell them that you have just had to restrain a dangerous,deluded individual who is trying to impersonate a police officer..

    I found myself in a very similar situation just after the acpo 2010 clarification letter had been sent to every serving police officer in the country,I was photographing some of our local estate rats breaking into a car when one of its parents saw what I was doing and called the police,the first to arrive was our local plastic wannabe plod who tried to remove my camera from me,having pointed out that I was stood in the same position as when taking photos,which was a public place,the beats were in a public place and that they were commuting a criminal act and that he was not a proper police officer I told him politely to go breed with himself and that if he laid one finger on my camera or myself I would defend myself with force.

    Once the real coppers turned up and we had a lengthy "conversation" about the acpo letter and I showed them the snaps if the brats busting into the car,they decided after 90 minutes that I had acted in a perfectly legal manner,when I complained to our loical seniour officer and asked him what would have happened if I had defended myself and restrained the plastic wannabe what would have happened to me ,the answer I got two weeks later was that I would have been perfectly within my rights to have done so,that the plastic wannabe was just a member of the public with no more rights or powers than I or any other member of the public has/had and that although I MAY have faced a charge of common affray,in the circumstances the chances of the cps taking it forward varied t from none to me possibly being chief witness against the wannabe for impersonating a police officer..

    The entire event was witnessed by 20+ other estate residents,which was why I refused to enter my own flat when the real plod turned up,I wanted those witness as a check on police officers behaviour and our "conversation",the above took place in south Hertfordshire...

  16. DougS Silver badge

    Will they pull over Google Street View cars?

    Not only are they taking pictures, they're posting them on the internet where Al Qaeda and ISIS can download them! The horror!!

  17. Bloodbeastterror

    And so, as with every such incident of abuse of anti-terrorist legislation, the terrorists win again.

  18. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
    Holmes

    Scraping the bottom of the barrel

    It has been apparent for some time that police recruitment has been scraping the bottom of the barrel; now Sussex Police seem to be digging underneath it and not just for the newbies.

  19. alain williams Silver badge

    Legislation will never be abused ...

    we are always told. So why is anti terror legislation being used to terrorise photographers, I wonder what plans are being drawn up on who to abuse with the Investigatory Powers Regulations 2017 ?

  20. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    Engage self righteous mode

    AKA prick mode - not the photographer BTW.

  21. peter 45

    Questions about ID

    " if Mitchell had “identified himself” to the woman employee, “the matter would have been resolved "

    Um. How?

    If he had shown his ID, how would that have proven he was not a terrorist?

    Do only terrorists not carry ID then?

    Is there a master database that can be instantly accessed by police employees which shows who is a terrorist and who is not?

    How would they have known if the ID was fake?

    When I take a selfie with my phone, should I be carrying around my passport to prove I am not a terrorist then?

    Knobs.

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