Northern Ireland news

PSNI officer breached guidelines by failing to inform west Belfast solicitor about bodycam

The officer only confirmed it was recording when the solicitor noticed a red light flashing and asked for a copy of the footage

A POLICE officer has escaped being disciplined over breaching a solicitor's "privacy and confidentiality" with a bodycam recording at their office.

The Police Ombudsman found the officer "breached guidelines by failing to advise a solicitor that she was recording Body Worn Video (BWV) footage in his office" in west Belfast in January 2019.

Despite the watchdog recommending she should be disciplined, the PSNI "decided to address the issue by implementing measures to improve the officer's performance".

The solicitor described it as a "breakdown of trust and courtesy", saying he should have been asked for his consent, which he would have been refused.

The officer, who had been returning cash to one of the solicitor's clients, said she recorded the exchange "to protect both herself and the solicitor in light of a previous allegation made by the owner of the money".

The officer only confirmed she was recording when the solicitor noticed a red light flashing and asked for a copy of the footage which showed her being taken through a door labelled `private' into an office where the money was handed over and signed receipts exchanged.

It captured documents sitting in different parts of the office and audio of a number of staff members from the legal firm talking on phones.

The investigator said the recording were within "a private area of a solicitor’s office where a high degree of privacy and confidentiality is expected... (where) there was the potential to capture personal and legally privileged information, as well as confidential communications".

The officers said "it should have been obvious" the camera was recording.

She accepted breaching police guidelines by failing to inform him, but said it had slipped her mind, adding no one had viewed the footage before it was provided to the Ombudsman.

Police Ombudsman Maire Anderson said PSNI guidelines "state that the use of body worn video should be overt, and that subjects should be advised that audio and video is being recorded".

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