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Stop! In the name of law

The BBC’s Andrew Marr was outraged after photographer Jeff Over was stopped and searched under anti-terror laws for taking a photo of St Paul’s Cathedral. But he’s not the only snapper to be pulled up by cops.

Colin Patterson, an experienced freelance photographer who worked for The Voice for many years, said he had a similar tale to tell from earlier this year when he was also searched under anti-terror laws.

Travelling to Tottenham Hotspur’s football ground with his camera equipment, he was pulled up and searched by officers.

Arrested: The Thirst

Once he showed his press ID he was allowed to go, but he told OBV Blog that police were stopping too many photographers, and that the issue had been raised at the British Press Photographers Association, of which he is a member.

Patterson said: “On a general perspective, yes, there is too much of this because they are stopping pretty much everybody. [The anti-terror laws] are a good excuse to stop anyone with a camera in their hand. They’re stopping amateurs, professionals, anybody.”

BBC photographer Jeff Over appeared on Andrew Marr’s politics show last weekend to talk about his experience at the hands of the police.

But photographers are not the only profession to have their collar felt by the beat bobbie this week. Rock band The Thirst were arrested in Staffordshire after a council CCTV operator mistakenly reported seeing a handgun. Police later apologised.

But what The Thirst, Patterson and Over have in common is that they were innocently going about their lives when they encountered the police. Although their experiences are very different, it is a stark reminder of the need for police to use their judgement while doing their jobs.

By Lester Holloway

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