July 1, 2008
Police raid privacy complaint upheld
PCC rules images of house interior and address private
The PCC today issued an important privacy ruling on website video images and stills of a police drugs raid published in a regional newspaper.
The Scarborough Evening News accompanied police on the raid of a property suspected to contain illegal drugs. Video footage of the raid taking place, of police entering and searching the property, including images of domestic interiors were made available on the newspaper’s website. An image of the complainant’s son’s bedroom was printed in the newspaper. The coverage was at the invitation of the police and had the interest of demonstrating that police were raiding properties suspected of harbouring illegal drugs. The precise address of the property was identified.
No charges were brought against the complainant although a small amount of cannabis was discovered, something which the complaint said that she knew nothing about. The newspaper argued that this added to the public interest justification of showcasing police anti-drugs work.
The PCC ruled that police co-operation did not absolve a publisher from compliance with the PCC Code. Images of a house interior taken without consent in circumstances that the exact address was disclosed involved a degree of intrusion into private life out of proportion to the two public interest justifications, awareness of local police operations and the discovery of an illegal drug.
* non-resident practising member