Police apologise to photographer

RED-faced police chiefs have apologised after an amateur photographer was stopped from taking photographs at the town's Christmas lights switch-on.Phil Smith, 49, was stunned when he was escorted out of the crowd of thousands gathered on the Corn Hill by two special constables after they told him he needed a licence to take pictures at the public event in November.

RED-faced police chiefs have apologised after an amateur photographer was stopped from taking photographs at the town's Christmas lights switch-on.

Phil Smith, 49, was stunned when he was escorted out of the crowd of thousands gathered on the Corn Hill by two special constables after they told him he needed a licence to take pictures at the public event in November.

Mr Smith, who is a member of the Ipswich and District Photographic Society, had been hoping to snap a picture of Cinderella star Letitia Dean, who was scheduled to appear on the night.

He said: “I was just standing in the crowd when the two special constables came up to me and asked me if I had a licence.

“I didn't think I needed a licence so I told them that - and then they said they had seen me taking pictures of the crowd which was not allowed.

“They asked me to come with them and escorted me away from the crowd, to outside the Golden Lion pub, I was embarrassed because it must have looked like I had committed a serious crime or something.

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“There were a lot of people watching and lots of them had cameras - I pointed this out to the constables and they told me they weren't interested in them because they weren't taking photos of the crowd.”

Mr Smith offered to show them the pictures he had taken, but the officers declined to view them, and warned him not to take any more.

He said: “I even deleted the pictures I had already taken that night - just so I knew I wasn't breaking the law.”

However when he contacted the Royal Photographic Society about the incident they told him he had been doing nothing, and advised him to make a complaint.

He was visited by Inspector Matt Dee of Suffolk police who apologised for the incident and confirmed he had done nothing wrong, and this week he also received a written apology from the inspector.

The letter reads: “This arose out of a breakdown in communication, and the two officers concerned were in fact acting in best belief that what they were telling you was correct.

“They had been informed by security staff that there was only one licensed photographer authorised to take the photos of the event.

“This was wrong. I can categorically state that you have committed no offences whatsoever.”

Mr Smith said: “I am happy with the outcome - I felt very uncomfortable when they escorted me out of the crowd but now they have dealt with it I am satisfied.

“I now know I am allowed to take pictures at public events - and I will carry the letter with me to show to anyone who tries to stop me next time.”

He was also given a copy of the official DVD of the event, to compensate him for the photographs which he deleted.

Have you been given incorrect advice by an authority? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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