back to article Cop films chap on body-worn cam because he 'complains about cops a lot'. Chap complains

Police's body-worn cams can be surveillance tools, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has said. The UK's independent cops-and-spies oversight court ruled that a police officer's decision to video a meeting inside a person's home, without warning them in advance, amounted to surveillance under Part II of the Regulation of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No doubt they passed that one by the Ethics department.

    They do have an Ethics department, don't they...

    1. IceC0ld Bronze badge

      Re: No doubt they passed that one by the Ethics department.

      They do have an Ethics department, don't they...

      ===

      Oh HELL YEA

      just past Suthics, close to Wethics

      1. Big John Silver badge

        Re: No doubt they passed that one by the Ethics department.

        Perhaps they've changed its name to Meh-thics....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No doubt they passed that one by the Ethics department.

      Which these days just means targeting what looks to be the lowest hanging fruit as it's easier than doing proper police work.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: No doubt they passed that one by the Ethics department.

      No, they're Hampthire.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Increasing the public's "trust" in the police

    Again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Increasing the public's "trust" in the police

      The only way is up.....

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Increasing the public's "trust" in the police

        "The only way is up....."

        Well, you'd think so - but then they keep showing us there are still depths to plumb.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Increasing the public's "trust" in the police

        The only way is up.....

        The only way is ethics

  3. Dr Scrum Master

    No wonder

    No wonder he complains about the police when he reports break-ins and the police don't investigate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No wonder

      Um, yeah, but people break in and move things to where I can't find them *all* the *time*, and the police just *won't* investigate. I find that strange. They say they've found the strange. Hmmph!

      1. muhfugen

        Re: No wonder

        You dont understand what the words "break in" mean do you?

        1. Big John Silver badge

          Re: No wonder

          Also, the break ins were at his commercial properties, not his own home.

      2. Zarno

        Re: No wonder

        I upvoted purely for the satire.

        Bravo, AC, Bravo!

        1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: "for the satire"

          Well 24 comentards don't understand satire at the time of posting this :)

      3. ds6 Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: No wonder

        ...Is no one getting that this is a funny?

        You know, humor? That thing? That what you make a laugh with?

        No?

    2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: No wonder

      My mother's house was broken into and when she reported it to the police they basically said "You have insurance don't you? Why are you bothering us?"

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: No wonder

        ...to which the answer is, "my insurer requires a crime reference number for the claim". Followed by, "what is your badge number pelase?"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No wonder

      Nothing to do with years of underfunding I'm sure, but hey, it's not like we really need the Police right? And anyone that matters can just hire their own security.

  4. Big John Silver badge

    Similarities

    Britain is starting to look a lot like Brazil.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Similarities

      Our likely prospects are already being described as the Venezuela option.

      1. Big John Silver badge

        Re: Similarities

        I read that article. As a Yank I found it interesting. That Newstatesman seems to be a site pretty far to the left, so I assume it's representative of the Remainer position.

        From my limited POV, the article seems to boil down to one simple issue: Tariffs. If the UK leaves the EU, the EU will impose high tariffs on the UK and the country will suffer for it, and this situation is similar to Venezuela's current trading status.

        Fine. But it seems to me that what's really happening is a hostage situation. "That's a real nice economy you got there, be a shame if anything were to happen to it." I know, that's over simplified, and the EU could be justified to be angry at the UK for upsetting the applecart, but there it is. If the EU were not to impose high tariffs on the UK, the problem the article discusses would not exist.

        I do understand that the EU pols don't want the example of Brexit to happen without cost, because that would tempt other countries to do the same. And that leads to the primary issue: Is the EU as constituted a good thing, or isn't it?

        As I say, I'm a Yank and have no dog in this hunt. Whatever happens will happen. I figure that Brexit will cause a lot of trouble economically, and even more politically, but it's politics that caused Brexit in the first place, and not doing it will lead to even more politics of the same sort. No matter what happens it will be messy as hell.

        1. James Anderson

          Re: Similari

          Given the massive imbalance between what Britain imports from the EU and what it actually exports to EU countries any tarrif war would hurt the EU far more than the UK. Not that that would bother Junker et al as they are interested in defending thier institutions not the well being and prosperity of the people of Europe.

          Even worse there is very little that the UK imports from the EU that it cannot get cheaper and better from countries outside the EU. The goods from the EU counties are only competitive because of tariffs which will no longer apply.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Similari

            I see you have nicely demonstrated a total lack of understanding there of how international trade works.

            there is very little that the UK imports from the EU that it cannot get cheaper and better from countries outside the EU via trade agreements negotiated through the EU that will cease when we leave

            FTFY

            1. James Anderson

              Re: Similari

              Well why would the UK impose punishing import tariffs on itself?

              Without a trade agreement the importing country is free to decide on how much to charge if anything.

              Several countries Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai have zero tariffs on imported goods.

              On the other hand without a trade agreement the country you export to can charge as much as it wants!

              Which is a major problem for exporters, but, all the project fear panic is directed at imports which would seem to be a non-event. It all seems like a re-run of the pathetic Y2K non event remember "Millenium cupboards" now we have "brexit cupboards" .

              1. Grinning Bandicoot

                Re: Cupboards

                I look upon these types of tempests as a way to get the lazy to have basic supplies in the case of a disaster, natural or political. Of course there still will remain the indolent that when the disaster happens will be interviewed by media reps and will complaint that the people running the recovery aren't doing enough to return them to the lazy life.

            2. Big John Silver badge

              Re: Similari

              So the UK will have to negotiate new agreements with some countries. Is there some large impediment to doing that? Seems like that's what diplomats are paid to do.

              Or... is it that all the UK diplomats were made redundant years ago? That would be interesting.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Similari

            I think that's turned out not to be true. A lot of people said firms like BMW would be pushing the German government to ensure the UK gets a good deal so they can carry on exporting.

            It seems that this hasn't happened. According to one report I read it's because the EU average for trade with the UK is something like 2.4% of GDP. France is lower and Germany a bit higher, for example. It's enough to be significant but not enough to make them give in to whatever the UK demands.

            None of this means we should or shouldn't leave the EU but it might help explain why EU governments aren't dancing to Mrs May's tune.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Similarities

          seems to be a site pretty far to the left, so I assume it's representative of the Remainer position

          Not a valid assumption - there are Leavers and Remainers at every part of the political spectrum.

          After all, Jezza is most definately a leaver[1] and you don't get much further to the left in the mainstream.

          [1] I'm not judging this by his current statement but by his attitude to the EU in previous years

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Britain is starting to look a lot like Brazil.

      you ain't seen nothing yet! I only wonder whom we should blame for long-term, chronic underfunding of BASIC social services, like health service, education and police, once we're out of the EU? I suppose we can always blame those immigrants in dingies for stealing our jobs and gp appointments...

  5. Credas Silver badge

    How covert was it?

    The UK police body-worn cameras I've seen have bright red LEDs on the front to show when they're recording; is that always the case, and if so can the cop turn the light off? I'm in no way defending the officer's actions - the Tribunal seems to have got their ruling spot on - but I would certainly be suspicious of a cop with a camera that has a bright red "recording!" light on it.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: How covert was it?

      On the fence here, if AB was in the habit of making complaints at the drop of a coppers hat, I'd go in with a camera recording too.

      There's been a number of industrial tribunals won where the victim recorded the unwelcome advances or comments.

      Icon - Getting my Teflon coat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd go in with a camera recording too.

        The point at issue here is presumably the secret/unannounced recording of the interaction, not just the recording of itself.

        1. Ghostman
          Facepalm

          Re: I'd go in with a camera recording too.

          If the officer had said " Sir, I'm recording this so I can go back over this when I type out the report so I will not miss anything pertinent to our investigation." Even if the guy doesn't say anything about the officer recording, there is a record of him being told.

          Face Palm since the cops over there haven't figured that one out.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'd go in with a camera recording too.

            Explicitly limiting the purpose of why you're recording to a lie is counter-productive.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I'd go in with a camera recording too.

              Yes, he could just mention the fact that he was recording, also because the interviewee would then be able to object to it. Doing it without permission is denying that choice, hence the judgement.

            2. Shooter

              Re: I'd go in with a camera recording too.

              "We are recording this event for quality and training purposes."

              And whatever else we can think of.

      2. 10forcash

        Re: How covert was it?

        As far as i'm aware, individuals recording video and / or audio on private premises is not legal without the consent of ther subject - not sure if it applies to plod, whether 'invited in' or not - but i'm certain it applies to private individuals, for example, 'dashcams' are supposed to be removed, turned off or inhibited from recording prior to being taken inside a dealers workshop as the subjects of any recording do not have the opportunity to consent prior to the recording taking place. I can't cite the exact legalese however, I did witness a Service Manager being 'put straight' by a company solicitor of a large chain of car dealers after he had decreed that dashcams should not be turned off and some of the tech's took umbrage with his edict....

        So i'm not sure how it was accepted as evidence in a tribunal without consideration for how the recording was made and concequences of making it public - presumably the recording was made on private premises without the subjects knowledge?

        1. Whitter
          Boffin

          ... recording video and / or audio on private premises is not legal without the consent ...

          Does that include car parks?

          Just wonderin' like.

    2. JJKing Bronze badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: How covert was it?

      I had a bright red warning light in my car that warned me that the airbag in my steering wheel was faulty. Since I wasn't too enthused at spending AUD$1,500 to get it fixed, I just covered the annoyingly bright bugger with a couple of pieces of black electrical tape. It's not rocket, or in this case, camera science.

      If they remove their identification when on duty at protest marches that could result in a bit of push and shove, then what's to stop them having pre-prepared; tape LED for the covering thereof.

    3. sictransit

      Re: How covert was it?

      In fact the tribunal haven’t yet decided whether it was covert or not. They’ve only determined the preliminary issue that use of the bodycam in someone’s home amounted to “surveillance”. (The IPT doesn’t make this explicit at the beginning or end of its judgment, but makes it clearer in paragraph 25.) Hence no findings so far about flashing LEDs or the visibility of any written warnings.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How covert was it?

      But surely the police should tell you if they are using their body cameras?

      They are quite covert and not very obvious when in use.

      I had a similar situation and cannot remember seeing any lights on the camera.

    5. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: How covert was it?

      A number of these cameras (and dashcams; and bike cameras) have a "Covert" or "Do Not Disturb" mode which switches the LED off.

  6. DavCrav Silver badge

    "You'd better secretly and unlawfully record this guy. He keeps complaining when people break the law. This way he won't be able to complain, oh no, wait."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This guy keeps pulling allegations out of his ass which are always unsubstantiated but always a lot of paperwork to resolve. Let's cover our asses on video, keep everybody on the straight and narrow, so if he complains, we can resolve this with 'look, he lied, and here's proof' "

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But sarge, if we let anyone know about the recordings, we'll get crucified in court.

        Yeah, I know there's no fruit of poison tree stuff but you'll have to resign and take your full pension and severance... oh, yes sarge. Very good sarge.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        More like he is someone who has had multiple break ins and gets fed up with the local plod failing to do any real investigating and simply "doing the paperwork"

        "Ok guys I know his place has been turned over a few times, but go round do the paperwork and file it under unsolved, just because he pays the Police precept on his Council Tax / Business Rates doesnt mean we have to take any real notice of his problem - its not like he is anyone of stature in the community"

        Sadly - for ordinary citizens and small businesses in some parts of the UK, that is exactly how some police forces operate, its almost like a Mafia protection racket, we fork out our taxes and precepts and get bugger all protection, The Police efforts are reserved for the "names" and businesses with clout and of course - covering themselves.

        Some of our front line Police Officers are amazing, others less so, and thier "managers" (more correctly termed Senior Officers) who enact policy, are really the dregs.

  7. sictransit

    Link to judgment

    Thanks for the link to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal’s main judgments page. But the IPT seems to have broken its own link from there to the judgment itself.

    The PDF can be found at https://www.ipt-uk.com/docs/IPT%20Judgment%20-%20AB%20v%20Hants%20Constabulary.pdf

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any word on when my Twitter app will visually indicate when police are scanning my feed for problematic speech?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      "problematic "?

      That's a lot of syllables. You some sort of intellektual trouble causer ?

      Sounds like double plus ungood speech to me

      1. Stratman

        "Pa, he's usin' them book words pa!"

        1. Mark #255

          This thread is reminding me of the old saw about "security" services' investigations always requiring three officers: One who can read, one who can write, and a heavy to keep an eye on the two dangerous intellectuals.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            three officers: One who can read, one who can write, and a heavy to keep an eye on the two dangerous intellectuals

            I thought it was 4? "And one to report the case to Moscow"..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    renowned for making complaints against the police on a regular basis

    Outrageous behaviour and waste of precious police time and resouces! I mean, your car is broken into and you report it to the police, they tell you they won't investigate - so you complain?! They break into bloke's premises, tell him they won't investigate - and he complains! Like, what's next, I go to GP cause I'm sick as a dog / parrot / etc, get told to buy calpol meself, and what, do I COMPLAIN?! I mean, what the fuck do you expect, that you pay your taxes and you actually GET SOMETHING IN RETURN, like, I dunno... access to public services?! O tempora, o mores!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warning

    The token plod down voter is active in this thread.

    LOL

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Warning

      Plod's mates have shown shown up at work...

  11. Martin-73 Silver badge

    I'm actually half on the officer's side here

    The mistake (probably intentional, therefore only half on the officer's side) was not informing the chap at the start. Recording interactions with people who are known to make complaints about your particular organization or group is only self defence.

    One segment beggars belief however: "it's for the court to decide whether it's being used for surveillance, not the officer"

    What the actual feck? Are the court claiming they know the officer's mind better then the officer himself or.... am I misreading it?

    1. a pressbutton
      Black Helicopters

      Re: I'm actually half on the officer's side here

      DCI Plod to PC Plod:

      Go and wander around that place where we we have been refused a search warrant. Leave your camera on.

      PC Plod to DCI Plod:

      will it be used for surveillance

      DCI Plod to PC Plod:

      No.

      PC Plod can now honestly say that data will not be used for surveillance.

    2. BrownishMonstr

      Re: I'm actually half on the officer's side here

      As much as I think cops are doing fuck all except being traffic cops, I don't think having an us and them mentally is doing any one any favours.

      Who hasn't requested something in a way in which you could use as a defence in case it came back to bite you in the arse, e.g. Asking a manager or client to write a request in an email.

    3. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: I'm actually half on the officer's side here

      It's an officers job to enforce the law, not interpret it.

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: I'm actually half on the officer's side here

        Sure... the problem however is that most PCs don't actually know the law, as unfortunately it is impossible for any one person to know the entire law. Hence, Police officers in the long past were chosen on their ability to show good moral judgement, standing, and have a good sense of reason in terms of assessing right from wrong.

        These days, with Police training budgets being cut to the bare bones, and with the entry criteria being also pared down, you do tend to get a lot of PC Keen types who are no better than corner shop security guards and that have no real idea how to "Police" anything.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm actually half on the officer's side here

          What's moral judgement got to do with the law?!?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm actually half on the officer's side here

      It really doesn't matter what the officer thinks, if he puts a tap on your phone or runs a camera in your building then it is surveilling and having the recording is surveillance.

  12. jason_derp

    Pretty rare that a cop gets in trouble for actually USING a body cam. The justification given for its use makes sense, if only to help separate unnecessary and frivolous complaints about the police from the ones that REALLY need to be looked into and addressed. That being said, if it was that much of a concern to the officer, I feel like it would have been appropriate to mention at the outset that he was recording the interaction.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I'm inclined to agree. On the whole, body-cams are a good thing; they keep the police honest, and they provide crucial evidence (or counter evidence) that keeps the costs down in the court system - for example, if a complainant claims the police beat him up during arrest, but the body-cam shows that actually the complainant was attacking the police.

      On the other hand, if recording in someone's home where that person is not a suspect (i.e. the police don't have a good reason to enter in the normal course of their duties, such as a warrant to arrest someone, or prevent the commission of a crime), the bare minimum should be to inform the person that they are recording and/or request their permission.

      It's a bit of a tricky one though. I'm of the opinion that when worn, the cameras should be on at all times, and the officer wearing the camera should have no way of turning it off, or, crucially, accessing the footage. Anything they record should only then actually be accessible if it is known to contain something relevant, or the officer is the subject of a complaint. This is to protect both the public, and the police. Storage is cheap, and securely archiving it shouldn't be any sort of technical challenge. Of course, this case demonstraes that perhaps it is not so black-and-white.

      Perhaps the ability to turn the camera off, with associated GPS logging would be a reaonable compromise, with the officer having to log a reason for doing so. What you don't want is the situation akin to the cop show trope where the officer removes their shoulder numbers before going into the cell to beat up the suspect. "Sorry sir, my camera isn't working, now where's my truncheon?"

      You have to be able to guard against crooked cops, but on the whole, the vast majority are honest, and a fair number of people they have to interact with are not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Police honest". Is that like a truthful politician?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Constable Savage

    2.0

    [The post is required, and must contain letters.]

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd always assumed that police bodycams were like dash-cams, always on just in case but on a loop so only a few hours data kept unless there was a reason to retain a clip. Looked at another way, if they can only be used when plod is anticipating a problem then surely plod should be defusing that problem. How does the camera differ from having a second plod alongside to act as a witness? Surely the cam is better than the possibility of the 2 plods colluding in a "creative" version of events.

  15. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

    What's the point of the cameras then?

    They should be on the whole time the police are on duty, even those in the station. This will remove any doubt that they 'might' be recording while out and about. If neither the police officer or the person they are interacting with raises a complaint then the video gets overwritten or deleted.

    If there is a complaint, there would be no doubt on either side that video WILL be available so the complainant had better make sure they were behaving properly before whatever it was occurred.

    Other people have noted before that complaints against the police go down when the cameras are used, so why not use them?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a bit like cameras in ATMs

    Some years ago the banks were getting complaints about "phantom withdrawals" from cash machines, the customer denying having used the machine. The banks started fitting cameras. Subsequent complainants, shown the footage suddenly remembered the occasion - or recognised a "friend", family member or colleague.

    "We are all innocent until until proved guilty" but when we are guilty, absence of evidence doesn't make us innocent. Denying the opportunity to collect evidence only benefits the guilty.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: a bit like cameras in ATMs

      Absence of evidence does make us innocent. "We knows it was you, you dirty thievin scum" is not evidence, only evidence is evidence. No evidence, no guilt.

      The real disgusting thing here is that this guy has experienced a crime, the cops won't investigate that crime, but are quite happy to try and entrap him somehow for something else. If they want people to stop treating them with suspicion and thinking they act like a licensed gang, this sort of thing has to stop.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: a bit like cameras in ATMs

        To be fair to the plod, I didn't see anything in the article that suggested that they weren't willing to investigate the crime. After all, they went to see the guy in his premises to talk to him about it. That's more than you get if they don't have the resources to make an invetigation.

        From their perspective, I think they were the ones trying to avoid entrapment, presumably because this guy had made some baseless, or unverified complaints in the past. The cop in question, however, was pretty stupid in not informing the complainant that he would be filming him before going into his premises, or asking him if he would agree to being recorded, particularly since he already knew the guy was the sort of person likley to make a complaint against the police - which, lo and behold! He did. A bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy there.

        The police have to treat everyone fairly and equally. There are only a few circumstances where they can act otherwise, even with someone they are arresting (for example, if a suspect violently resists arrest). They dropped the ball on this one, and are being slapped for it accordingly. Pretty dumb on their part really.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: a bit like cameras in ATMs

          Its in the 3rd paragraph...

          The case was brought by an individual, AB, who had reported a burglary at a non-residential property he owned. Hampshire Constabulary officers later visited his home address to tell him the force would not be investigating.

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    It's like....

    ...these body cams only seem to work when the Police want them to.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019