Photographer sues police over claims of wrongful arrest

A freelance photographer has accused Devon and Cornwall Police of breaching his human rights after he was arrested for taking pictures of a suspected shoplifter.

Christopher Hammond submitted a claim form, seen by Press Gazette, against the force last month over the 2007 incident, claiming he was a victim of wrongful arrest.

Hammond had been taking photographs of a young woman who was being questioned by officers over what a police log described as “a shoplifting incident”.

The former journalist was arrested and handcuffed in the street “to his general humiliation and distress” after he had refused to hand over his camera, according to the claim form.

According to police logs, Hammond became aggressive with the police, leading to his arrest – something he denies. He also said that he did not make a formal statement to officers over the incident as later reported.

Hammond was later issued with an on-the-spot fine of £80, which he refused to pay, saying he wanted the case heard in the magistrate’s court. He said the fine was never paid or enforced by the police.

Hammond has also referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission but said his complaint has not been followed up.

He told Press Gazette that the case highlighted the need to ensure police officers don’t over-reach their powers when dealing with journalists.

“I do think the police are getting out of hand,” he said. “The freedom of the press is being eroded.”

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that Hammond “has instigated civil proceedings against the constabulary” but was unable to comment further.

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