Freelance photographer Marc McMahon lost £8,000 of camera equipment after he was arrested while trying to take pictures of a man threatening to throw himself off the Tyne Bridge.
And he has called for a meeting with the chief constable of Northumbria Police and other journalists in a bid to improve police relations with the media in the Northeast of England.
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- September 21, 2020
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He believes police relations with photographers are worsening throughout the country, and hopes to help draw up a set of guidelines similar to those agreed between the force and NUJ in Nottinghamshire.
On Tuesday night McMahon took his 16-year-old daughter, who is also his assistant, to take pictures of a man threatening to jump from the Tyne Bridge.
McMahon said that despite having identified himself and his daughter as journalists to police, he was asked not to take photos.
He insisted he was allowed to take them and began setting up his equipment when a constable arrested him for breach of the peace.
When his daughter tried to take photos on her mobile phone of her father being arrested, McMahon claims the policeman knocked it out of her hand and damaged it.
He told Press Gazette: "It was like a scene from The Keystone Cops. I told the officer we were well within our rights to take photos as there was no police cordon; it was a public place and there were other people standing about taking photographs."
McMahon was held in a police cell for 10 minutes and then told he could leave.
He has made complaints against the police for unlawful arrest, unlawful detainment and excessive use of force. He made a fourth complaint for negligence, after his camera bag with £8,000 worth of gear was apparently stolen when he was arrested.
McMahon's solicitor Paul Dodds is preparing an initial letter of claim to send to Northumbria Police under the Professional Negligence Protocol. The force has three months to issue a defence or deny liability.
Inspector Cameron Mann of Northumbria Police told Press Gazette: "Police officers are aware of the need to work with the media and let reporters and photographers carry out their jobs when covering events which are happening in public places.
"However, the actions of the media mustn't compromise policing operations, put anyone in danger or obstruct the police.
"In this case, officers were concerned that media attention could have exacerbated what was already a tense situation, with a man threatening to jump from the Tyne Bridge. "This led to an arrest for a breach of the peace. As a result of this arrest, a complaint has been received about the actions of the officers involved.
"We are also investigating an allegation of theft by an as yet unknown third party."