Scope widened for New Zealand inquiry into police photography practice

An official inquiry into an aspect of New Zealand police’s conduct is to be broadened to include taking photographs of members of the public.

When the review was announced in December, the intended focus was to be police photographing youth. The terms of reference will now include photographing other people who are not being detained or suspected of committing an offence. 

The inquiry, being jointly conducted by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Independent Police Conduct Authority, was set up after media publicity the previous August about police stopping Maori young people on the streets in Wairarapa to photograph them, take their personal details and send the information to a national database.

Among issues under consideration are whether police actions at Wairarapa complied with police policy, the Privacy Act and any other legislation; the extent and why police are photographing people in public places; what compliance and enforcement actions are required if police are found to have breached the privacy of the individuals involved; and what specific restrictions or requirements ought to govern photography of children and young people.

The draft inquiry report is expected to be completed by September.

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