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Newspaper's drugs raid footage 'highly intrusive'

Video footage of a police drugs raid posted by a newspaper on its website was “highly intrusive,” the Press Complaints Commission has ruled.

A complaint was made to the Commission against the Scarborough Evening News for its coverage of the raid, in February.

The PCC also said the fact police invited the paper on the raid, did not absolve the editor of responsibility for ensuring published material complied with its Code of Conduct.

The complaint, which was upheld by the PCC, breached Clause 3 of the Code which concerns matters of privacy.

The Evening News posted video footage online of the raid in Scarborough followed by photos in the paper under the headline ‘Drugs and cash seized in raids’.

The house’s occupant Carolyn Popple complained to the PCC, saying the video and a photo of her son’s bedroom, taken without consent, was deeply intrusive.

The coverage identified her precise address yet no charges had been brought against her – although she said she had been told by the police that ‘a small amount of cannabis’ had been found at her house.

The newspaper said it had attended the raid to demonstrate the police’s anti-drugs activities and the fact drugs were found added to the ‘public interest’ justification.

The complainant’s address was identified so that there would be no confusion with other houses on the street but the newspaper offered the complainant an opportunity to reply.

The PCC’s adjudication said: “Showing a video and publishing a picture of the interior of the complainant’s house was clearly highly intrusive.

“The relevant consideration was whether there was a sufficient public interest in the story to justify the degree of intrusion.

“There were two strands to the public interest defence – first, that the footage showed an important part of local policing and second was that it allegedly exposed a specific criminal offence.

“The Commission considered that, while it may have been in the public interest to illustrate the police campaign against drugs, insufficient regard had been paid to the complainant’s right to privacy in this case.

“Showing the video of the complainant’s home involved a degree of intrusion that was out of proportion to any such public interest.”


Carl Eve (02/07/2008 18:35:02)
1) If you can, get your name put on the warrant, then you’re sorted. Otherwise, don’t use the inside of the house. Tenants can reasonably argue you’re trespassing.
2) Only use the video if they find a good amount of gear. A joint is just not worth the hassle.