23 August 2014

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Police officer’s complaint against weekly dismissed

The Press Complaints Commission has dismissed a complaint from a police officer against a South London weekly.

Metropolitan police officer PC Ian Collis claimed that coverage in the News Shopper about a community order he had been issued with following an attack on a member of the public while off duty put him at risk of harm.

PC Collis, who is currently suspended from duty, was concerned that the newspaper had published his partial address in a court report about the case.

He considered that its publication could pose a risk of serious harm to himself and his family from individuals he had encountered in the course of his work.

He felt that this and other material in the report about his mental health and the distress he had felt after losing his father was in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code.

The Newsquest-owned title had previously declined a request from the police press office to remove his address from its online report and in the print edition.

In dismissing the case the PCC said it did not consider that the whereabouts of the street on which an individual lives is a matter that concerns their private and family life.

In addition the information was already in the public domain because it had been said in open court.

The Commission has ruled that “Newspapers are generally entitled to include details of a person’s address in reports of criminal cases against them, not least because addresses are likely to be given in open court.

“There is also a general public interest in the identification of individuals who have been charged with criminal offences. Correct identification will often involve the publication of at least a partial address.”

5 Comments

  1. Hannah, Birmingham

    What a stupid police officer and hypocritical press office. The newspaper would leave themselves wide open to libel claims from people of the same name if they did not print his partial address to identify him properly.

    The press office should be ashamed of itself for being so partial in relation to an offender because he works for the force. He should be made an example of.

    If PC Collis is going to use details of his mental health and loss of his father in defence of of his criminality then those details are no longer private.

    Any defendant could claim they “could” be the subject of attacks after being charged with an offence – it seems the PC Collis is separating himself from the criminals he locked up before his suspension.

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  2. Parvenu

    I’m surprised this got as far as a PCC ruling. I’ve had hopeless complaints against my paper chucked out before they get to the commission itself.
    It’s a court case, properly reported. Case closed. Nothing to adjudicate upon.

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  3. Ex-Noooorthcliffe, England

    Outrageous waste of time for all concerned. As I would tell anyone who rang up moaning about their court case in the paper: the way to stay out of print is not to commit the crime.

    In this case, if the POLICE OFFICER hadn’t ILLEGALLY ATTACKED A MAN then the problem wouldn’t exist.

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  4. Fred, Henley

    I think the traditional response is ‘If you don’t want to be mentioned in the local paper, don’t attack a member of the public while off duty.”

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  5. Black Shuck

    He’s lucky really. I remember being taught that we had to use the defendant’s full address including the house number in case there was someone else with a similar name in the same street.

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