Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Police to consider implications of privacy inquiry findings

NZ Police has accepted the findings of a joint inquiry by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner into the photographing of rangatahi.

Police also acknowledged the joint inquiry’s broader findings into practices and policies regarding taking photographs of members of the public.

“We will take some time to consider the broader findings, which have implications for Police’s ability to effectively investigate and prevent crime,” said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

“We welcome scrutiny of our policies and practices. As an organisation we are committed to ensuring New Zealanders can have trust and confidence in the way personal information is obtained and managed. However, some of the findings and recommendations present significant challenges to our staff being able to carry out their duties successfully.”

The Commissioner said intelligence gathering, including the taking of photographs and voluntary fingerprints, enables Police to carry out its core functions as set out by the Policing Act 2008, particularly the prevention and investigation of crime.

“We accept that aspects of our intelligence gathering policy require refinement, particularly in relation to retention and disposal of information that is no longer needed for the purposes of investigation. We already have robust systems and processes in place around the retention of fingerprints.”

He said changes were under way following the compliance notice relating to youth photographs issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to Police in December 2021.

“We note the IPCA and OPC’s comments around the undertakings by Police to comply with the notice.”

“Police has embarked on a training program that aims to increase awareness of the need to appropriately manage images once they have served their investigative or prevention purpose.

“The public can be confident that this ongoing commitment to balancing investigation requirements with the public’s right to privacy will remain a central concern of our staff,” the Commissioner said.

“Progress towards our goal of being a leader in the public sector on privacy matters can be observed in detail via our quarterly reporting on our progress on this issue at www.police.govt.nz,” he said.

The inquiry findings were rejected by the NZ Police Association earlier this week, who called for the immediate withdrawal of the inquiry report.

Association President, Chris Cahill said the report was out of step with what police officers need on a day to day basis to do their jobs.

“The report’s key findings represent a serious misunderstanding of what constitutes biometric data,” said Mr Cahill.

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