Harassment Letters and Notices Lawful

English: LondonIn the conjoined cases of R v The Commissioner for Police for the Metropolis (on the applications of R and T) [2012] EWHC 1115 (Admin), the applicants sought to challenge the police practice in relation to warnings given to those have been accused of harassment or stalking by means of what is known as a Prevention of Harassment Letter or a Police Information Notice.

Prevention of Harassment Letters or Information Notices are issued to those whom have been interviewed about allegations of harassment but not charged. A record is stored on the Police National Computer for up to 7 or 12 years.

The Claimants contended that in certain respects the current practice may not accord with data protection principles and/or the right to respect for a private and family life enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and/or common law requirements of procedural fairness.

In a lengthy and complex judgment, those contentions were rejected. In summary, while the period of retention would be too long if the sole purpose were to lay the ground for establishing a “course of conduct” under the Protection from Harassment Act, for other purposes such as assisting in re-solving later allegations, and investigating other crimes, a longer period of retention might well be appropriate.

As these matters were within the scope of police judgment as to operational needs, the Court should be slow to interfere. As there are procedures by which the Information Commissioner is prepared to entertain requests for earlier deletion, the Court was not satisfied any illegality had been established and the applications were rejected.

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2 Comments

Filed under Cases, Harassment

2 responses to “Harassment Letters and Notices Lawful

  1. Bernd Sass

    [This comment has been shortened and edited to remove anything which would identify the individuals and institutions involved but retain the substance of the author's important concerns.]

    Unlike in those two cases judged, I am very concerned that police information notices can be exploited against whistleblowers – in this case social work students who are not protected under PIDA. This is because the police lacks the expertise to prevent itself being instrumentalised, and this applies to conflicts of interests in social care and potentially other professional areas as well.

    I am one of the 76 social work students removed from the General Social Care Council (GSCC) register. Since December 2007, the GSCC has failed to investigate my reports of a senior manager in my placement deliberately withholding knowledge from social services of a resident having unsupervised contact with his baby child against a court order. Shortly after that I was excluded from my placement and in spite of my having complained to the GSCC about this, the placement staff, the GSCC’s own regional inspector and head of education who all had failed to act on my timely reports still no investigation has been carried out.

    My determination to resist attempts to silence my serious concerns and destroy my lifelihood (eg the placement provider alerting my employer of my exclusion upon guidance from the GSCC and threatening me three times in 36 hours with an injunction from their solicitor) has culminated in a harassment letter from the Police made against me for reporting the above concerns. This was done without my first being given the opportunity to set out the context yet the fact of this letter being issued has been circulated and used against me.  

    We have moved to a world described by Franz Kafka several decades ago, and once again I doubt that judges possess the necessary imagination to prevent such exploitation of safeguards which had been put in place to protect vulnerable people against repeat offenders but not very powerful quasi-judicial institutions against serious public concerns.

  2. Pingback: Harassment Warning Notices | Chop the Knot

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