Police defend bus stop terror quiz

July 30, 2008

Police deny officers overreacted when they used anti-terrorism legislation to quiz a man who took a picture of their police car on his camera phone.

David Gates, 42, took the photograph because he thought the police car was illegally parked at a Portsmouth bus stop, prompting officers to ask what he was doing.

The officers then explained that they had powers to stop him under the Terrorism Act 2000, telling him he could have posed a security threat.

David told them it was not illegal to take pictures in a public place and has since condemned their behaviour as ?ridiculous?.

Asked to explain their actions, Hampshire Police spokeswoman Liz Harding denied that the officers acted ?overzealously?.

She told Amateur Photographer (AP) magazine: ?We have absolutely no idea what that photograph could be used for. We were not saying ?you are a terrorist?. The picture could be a security risk because it shows the car registration and we don?t know if that could be used for any sinister purpose later on.?

It emerged during the officers? conversation with David that he did not pose a security threat. So, they allowed him to continue on his way.

The officers took down David?s details using a stop-and-search form which, police have confirmed to AP, they will keep for 12 months.

However, police insist that they did not tell David he could not take photographs.

David sent his picture to his local newspaper, before the story was picked up by the national media.

Police say the officers were attending a domestic incident nearby and were not able to find an alternative parking space.

They add that it is not illegal for a police car to park at a bus stop.

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