Photographer in ‘deleted photos’ terror search

February 25, 2010

Police have launched an investigation after an amateur photographer was stopped on suspicion of being a terrorist while on a ‘trip to buy fish and chips’.

Stephen Russell stood his ground when police demanded he delete pictures that he taken of a police officer attending a minor incident in Kidlington, Oxfordshire.

The officer had been called after a gang had hurled a bottle at a passer-by.

Russell said he had taken the photos because it was ?unusual? to see such police activity in the village.

Russell, 59, told the Oxford Mail that the officer told him to delete the four images he had captured.

But the photographer refused, telling the officer that it was not illegal to take such photographs.

Russell was then subjected to a police search under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act.

By law, police should only stop and search a person under Section 43 if they ?reasonably suspect? the person to be a terrorist.

?He used the Terrorism Act to search me. I?m not a terrorist,? said Russell who was then told to supply his personal details.

In December, police forces nationwide were warned that photographers are not legally required to provide their personal details when stopped under anti-terrorism laws.

A letter, issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, reminded police chiefs that it is not a criminal offence to take photographs in a public place.

Though members of the public are not legally obliged to give an officer personal details during a ‘stop and search’ or ‘stop and account’, there are growing fears that refusal heightens any suspicions an officer already has over a photographer.

Amateur Photographer has today learnt that Thames Valley Police has launched an investigation into the incident.

Supt Howard Stone said: ?If the man who was involved in the incident was not happy with the police officer?s actions then we would advise him to submit an official complaint to Thames Valley Police.?

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