Policing, Privacy and Photographs

The GB Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has just published a press release on the case of R (RMC and another) v Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The EHRC had intervened in this court case to argue that the police could not indefinitely keep photographs of persons who had not been charged with or convicted of a crime. The High Court agreed that the police’s policy on retention of photographs breached article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In so doing, the court relied on the landmark European Court of Human Rights ruling in S and Marper v United Kingdom on retention of cellular samples, DNA and fingerprints (press release, judgment).

The High Court identified several problems with the police policy: it did not adequately distinguish between persons not charged, those charged but acquitted and those who were convicted; the photographs could be retained for years and potentially indefinitely; finally the High Court was concerned about the impact on young people (see para 54 of the judgment, available here.) The High Court has given the police a reasonable period (to be measured in months not years) to revise the policy.