No human rights protection for rioter

Posted: 10th July 2015

Police carIn a decision which raised important data protection and human rights issues, the Supreme Court has ruled that the police did nothing wrong when they published CCTV footage of a 14-year-old boy involved in rioting in Northern Ireland.

The boy’s lawyers argued that the release of the images to the press amounted to a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and a violation of his right to have his privacy respected, enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. His claim was, however, rejected by the High Court.

In dismissing his appeal, the Supreme Court ruled by a majority that his Article 8 rights were not engaged and, even had they been, any interference with them was justified. The police had taken a painstaking approach and had only released the footage as a measure of last resort.

Noting that Article 8 did not exist to protect rioters, the Court found that the boy’s involvement in the unrest was not an aspect of his life which he was entitled to keep private. He had no legitimate expectation that he would be afforded such privacy and the publication of the footage was in any event justified for the purposes of preventing and detecting crime and deterring others.