A photographer has been stopped while taking photos of Christmas lights on a Sussex street, amid terrorism fears. Police say the photographer aroused suspicion because he was seen taking ‘many photos’ in a busy shopping area.
The Argus newspaper this morning reported that Andrew White, 33, was stopped by two Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)s in Burgess Hill.
The news comes just days after a BBC photographer was stopped by police while taking photos of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Andrew, who lives in Brighton, told The Argus that the PCSOs followed him as he walked to work.
Sussex Police confirmed to Amateur Photographer that officers recorded his details on a police ‘stop and account’ form.
‘I had nothing to hide so I just provided the details. Now I’m concerned about where those details are going to end up,’ Andrew told the newspaper.
He added: ‘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.’
A spokesman for Sussex Police told Amateur Photographer that officers suspected Andrew may have been on a reconnaissance mission for a terrorist attack.
In a statement Sussex Police said: ‘A man was spoken to by two PCSOs… They were concerned that he appeared to be taking too many photographs in a busy shopping area and therefore spoke to him.
‘He swiftly satisfied them he was acting without any sinister intent and he went on his way within minutes.’
When asked how many photos is ‘too many’, a police spokesman refused to ‘generalise’, telling Amateur Photographer that the officers reacted to the ‘circumstances’ at the time.
The spokesman said that officers have not been given instructions as to how many photos may be taken before police suspicion should be aroused.
Police said the officers acted in good faith, ‘balancing individual liberty against the need to ensure public safety’.
Sussex Police refused to comment further on the matter.
Two years ago police were forced to apologise to a photographer who was stopped while taking photos of Christmas lights in Ipswich.