This photo was captured shortly before the police stop [Picture credit: George Anastasi]
Kyle Adams and George Anastasi were stopped as they tried to take pictures of a moving police car from a pavement next to a public road in Croxley Green, near Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, on 4 July.
The student photographers said the officers asked them for identification before using their driving licences to run checks with the force’s headquarters via radio.
They said one of the officers told them that ‘in this day and age you just can’t be too sure about people… to do with terrorism and so on’.
Though no action was taken, the pair said they were left feeling that carrying a DSLR was like wielding ‘an offensive weapon’.
In a fresh police statement, issued to Amateur Photographer last night after the magazine sought a response from the two officers involved, Hertfordshire Police said the photographers were not obliged to supply their identification when asked.
After tracking down the officers, police say they deemed the attempted photos of the patrol car ‘out of the ordinary’.
Speaking last night, Anastasi said he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the officers’ response.
‘The suggestion that simply taking a photo of a police car is “out of the ordinary” alarms me… What else is “out of the ordinary” for us to photograph? Can I take a picture of a police station, for example?’
Asked what he thinks the officers’ reaction may have been had they refused to hand over ID, Adams said: ‘I don’t think they would have taken to it too kindly.’
Anastasi said that ‘at no point’ did the police make it clear they could leave at any time, or that they did not have to provide their personal details.
‘They have not stated whether they suspected us of any crimes, because what we were doing was not suspicious. In short, they had no reason to stop us.
‘They insisted that our details were checked to ensure we weren’t “wanted for anything”.’
The pair had recently completed a DSLR photography course and were trying out their camera-panning skills when they were approached by the officers.
In its response, released to AP yesterday, a Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: ‘The men were not detained using any formal powers and they were not under any obligation to give their details to the officers.’
The force added: ‘The photographers caught the attention of the officers involved because their behaviour was deemed out of the ordinary. The officers made brief enquiries with them before leaving.’
Emergency call ‘cancelled’
Asked why the officers had switched off their emergency blue light immediately before approaching the photographers, the police spokesman told AP: ‘Prior to stopping to speak to the two men, the officers had been called to an incident that required them to use their blue lights and sirens.
‘However, their attendance was cancelled by the Force Control Room shortly before the incident with the photographers occurred.’
The force says its officers are required to be vigilant at all times and to ‘make inquiries into anything that is unusual or activities that are not commonplace when out on patrol’.
The statement added: ‘It is in the public interest for police officers to do this, accepting that sometimes people who have done nothing wrong may well be inconvenienced as a result.’
Anastasi said he would ‘think twice’ about how to respond if approached by police in future.
Since the Government changed anti-terror laws three years ago, there have been relatively few reports of police stops on photography enthusiasts.