Police today admit that officers require a ‘court order’ before they can confiscate a photographer?s camera equipment.
Freelance news photographer Paul King yesterday filed a complaint against Thames Valley Police after officers seized the camera he was using to photograph the scene of a crash in Wokingham, Berkshire.
King believes that police deleted the images from his camera, as they were not there when his equipment was returned to his home address.
People injured in the crash had already been taken to hospital.
The photographer told BBC News online: ?The officer came after me in a police car, grabbed hold of me and told me he was going to arrest me.
?He took my equipment but when it was brought back I had a look at the images and they were not there.?
He added: ‘My role is to photograph news so the general public can see what?s going on.’
Thames Valley Police pledged to ?fully investigate? the incident, but declined to comment further.
Speaking in general terms, a spokeswoman told Amateur Photographer that officers require a court order to confiscate a camera and images.
John Toner, national freelance organiser for the National Union of Journalists is furious.
He said: ‘Whoever deleted these images is very lucky they didn’t commit an offence themselves.
‘The Home Office reiterated last year that, in this country, everyone has the right to take photographs in a public place.
‘We will certainly be examining this in more detail to assist the photographer.’
In an earlier statement Thames Valley Police said: ?The force understands that journalists have a duty to take photographs and film from the scene of many of the incidents we deal with and we are committed to working alongside the media.?
Earlier this year, Thames Valley Police was forced to retrain its officers on the correct use of anti-terrorism powers after a photographer was wrongly suspected of being a terrorist.
Amateur photographer Stephen Russell was on a trip to buy fish and chips when police demanded he delete pictures he had 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.
The photographer was then subjected to a police search under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act.