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Brighton photographer stopped for taking 'terror' festive lights photos
A photographer wanted to capture images of Christmas lights – but ended up having his details recorded under anti-terror laws.
Andrew White, 33, from Kemp Town, Brighton, was taking snaps of the decorations in Burgess Hill town centre when two Police Community Support Officers started following him as he walked to work.
The two female PCSOs then stopped him and asked why he had been taking pictures and if he was a professional photographer.
When he asked why they wanted to know, the PCSOs told him it was to do with counter-terrorism legislation and demanded his personal details, including his name and address.
Mr White said: “I had nothing to hide so I just provided the details.
“Now I’m concerned about where those details are going to end up.
“I only took one or two photos but even if I had taken more, who are they to say what is too many? I don’t think taking too many photos in the street warrants being considered some kind of terrorist threat, which is what they were suggesting.
“I think the money spent on getting PCSOs to waste my time and harass me in the street could be better spent elsewhere.”
Mr White said the two women PCSOs were polite but they insisted that they had to take his details because they had stopped him.
A Sussex Police spokesman said the officers spoke to Mr White because they were concerned he was taking too many photographs in a busy shopping area.
He said: “They were acting in good faith, balancing individual liberty against the need to ensure public safety.”
Under the 2002 Police Reform Act PCSOs have the power to demand the name and address of a person suspected of committing a criminal offence or for antisocial behaviour.
However, the growing use of this power to stop photographers is being critised.