Chief constable defends staff for challenging photographer

Hove Town Hall, where photographer Eddie Mitchell was detained by police for taking pictures of the public building (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)
Hove Town Hall, where photographer Eddie Mitchell was detained by police for taking pictures of the public building (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)
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Sussex chief constable Giles York has today supported the actions of his officers after they challenged a man for taking photos outside Hove Town Hall yesterday (May 4).

Eddie Mitchell, a freelance photographer from Worthing, said he was taking general shots of the Hove Town Hall when he was asked by a member of police staff what he was doing.

He would not give his name or tell her why he was taking the pictures before being asked to enter the police station at Hove Town Hall to make a statement. It was then that two officers detained Mr Mitchell, searched him, and seized his camera under section 43 of the Terrorism Act.

Section 43 of the Terrorism Act says: “A constable may stop and search a person whom he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist to discover whether he has in his possession anything which may constitute evidence that he is a terrorist.”

Mr York today defended the work of his staff and their ‘everyday heroism’.

He said: “We are operating in challenging times. The terrorism risk nationally remains severe, and in view of recent events I expect my staff and the public to be vigilant and report unusual activity.

“I ask police officers and staff to step forward every day when others would choose not to, and I fully support staff who go above and beyond in line with their duty, often at personal risk to themselves.

“I think it is fair to expect that the public recognise the complex challenges we face, the real risks to police employees in maintaining public safety and to be as supportive as possible by reporting suspicious activity to us or the Anti-Terrorist hotline on 0800 789321 and to co-operate as fully as possible.

“I totally support and am immensely proud of my officers and staff and I try really hard to recognise personally their ‘everyday heroism’.”