The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is currently supervising four Metropolitan Police investigations into the use of Section 44 anti-terror stop and search following complaints lodged by photographers.
‘There are currently four supervised investigations into the way that the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] uses Section 44 stop and search in relation to photographers and tourists. These are all ongoing,’ confirmed an IPCC spokeswoman.
She said this number of outstanding cases has been collated ‘since 30 November 2009’.
They include the case of BBC photographer Jeff Overs who was stopped under anti-terror laws while taking pictures of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The photographer, who had been taking sunset photos, said a police officer told him he could have been on a reconnaissance operation ahead of a terrorist attack.
The drama, which took place outside Tate Modern on 25 November, led to widespread press coverage,
Commenting on Overs’ complaint, the IPCC told us: ‘We have received an application from the MPS to return a section 44 stop and search complaint as a local investigation – to be investigated locally by the MPS Department of Professional Standards. This complaint is currently being supervised by the IPCC.’
The watchdog added: ‘The IPCC is in the process of contacting the complainant asking for his consent and explaining the differences/consequences of a local investigation as opposed to supervised.
‘This is normal practice in any application for local investigation where there is a complainant. We would wait for this discussion to take place before any decision is taken.’
The photographer met with Metropolitan Police representatives to discuss his complaint earlier this month.
Overs had written to the Met after police officers demanded his name, address and date of birth when they stopped him under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act.
Earlier this week the IPCC told us that when it supervises an ongoing investigation the watchdog will need to satisfy itself that the photographer’s complaint has been dealt with ‘appropriately’.