Photographer questioned by police under anti-terror laws… for taking ‘too many’ pictures of town centre Christmas lights

Daily Mail
02.12.2009
By Daily Mail Reporter

An amateur photographer taking pictures of Christmas lights was questioned by police under anti-terror laws.

Andrew White, from Brighton, was taking pictures in a busy town centre in nearby Burgess Hill when he was spotted and followed by two Police Community Support Officers.

They stopped him and asked why he had been taking pictures and if he was a professional photographer.

Mr White, 33, asked why they wanted to know and was told it was to do with counter-terrorism legislation.

Police said he was stopped for ‘taking too many photographs in a busy shopping area’.

The PCSOs demanded his personal details, including his name and address.

Mr White said: ‘I had nothing to hide so I just provided the details. Now I’m concerned about where those details are going to end up.

‘I only took one or two photos but even if I had taken more, who are they to say what is too many?

‘I don’t think taking too many photos in the street warrants being considered some kind of terrorist threat, which is what they were suggesting.

‘I think the money spent on getting PCSOs to waste my time and harass me in the street could be better spent elsewhere.’

Mr White said the officers were polite but they insisted that they had to take his details because they had stopped him.

A Sussex Police spokesman said they spoke to Mr White because they were concerned he was taking too many photographs in a busy shopping area.

The spokesman said: ‘They were acting in good faith, balancing individual liberty against the need to ensure public safety.’

Under the 2002 Police Reform Act, PCSOs have the power to demand the name and address of a person suspected of committing a criminal offence or for antisocial behaviour.

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