HAMPSHIRE police showed a “total disrespect for the law”. This was the damning verdict of a New Forest burglary victim after the force was made to pay out £2,500 compensation for unlawfully filming him in his home.
Management advice was also given to the officers involved and an apology made to the complainant after an independent inquiry.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal in London heard two of the force’s officers attended the address of the man – known only as AB – to tell him no further inquiries would be carried out after he reported a burglary at another property he owned.
One of the officers had switched on his body-worn video camera following advice from his sergeant as it was said AB had a history of making complaints against the police. But the hearing was told the complainant was not notified until the end of the conversation.
The recording, which runs to around 20 minutes, started from when the officers went up to his front door and rang the bell. It captured him inviting them in and the conversation in his living room.
AB was said to have been calm throughout, the tribunal heard, with the officer filming becoming exasperated at his generalised references to the police. It was at this point he pointed out the camera was operating.
In response, AB immediately protested, citing the Data Protection Act, and said he could bring a civil prosecution for filming inside his property without his knowledge.
The tribunal concluded the recording violated AB’s privacy rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act and was in no way justified under by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
Speaking to the A&T after the ruling, the complainant accused the force of failing to investigate his burglary complaint and branded the act of recording him in his home “spying”.
“Hampshire police feel they can get away with ignoring crimes, they can’t be bothered to even try to investigate crimes,” he said.
“They claim they have few officers, yet no problem sending two to spy on me!
“I’m concerned that more innocent people will be secretly spied upon by useless Hampshire police where its policy appears to be ‘mind over matter’ for crime. They don’t mind and victims of crime like me don’t matter!
“I used to be a medic and if I broke the law, I would have been charged, so why are Hampshire police allowing officers to break the law? A vote of no confidence in police and the police and crime commissioner from me.”
A force spokesperson said: “Hampshire Constabulary guidance states that body worn video (BWV) users should let the person know they are being recorded as soon as practicable and that BWV is an overt recording tool.
“It can be used in private dwellings where users are lawfully on the premises, however discretion should be exercised and recording should only take place when relevant to the incident.”
The spokesperson added: “Hampshire Constabulary has accepted that the complainant’s rights were breached in this case and apologised, with the officers involved receiving management advice.”