Tuesday 10 July 2007 8.12pm
Any photograph taken by an individual remains the property of that individual. Neither a police office or a PCSO has the right to check the image without a warrant.
Mickey, I agree with all of your post, except the bit quoted above. Whilst it's certainly not an area I know a huge amount about, I think there is plenty of scope in the existing law for a police officer (although not necessarily a PCSO) to "check" an image on someone's camera in certain circumstances, but not to delete it.
For example, Part 1 of PACE empowers any constable (not PCSO) acting with reasonable grounds for suspicion to stop, detain and search you or your vehicle, or anything in or on your vehicle, and certain items if found, may be seized. There's similar powers in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and these are supplemented by the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (see in particular s51).
However, I certainly agree that they have to have reasonable grounds to believe either that the evidence is property obtained in consequence of the commission of an offence (i.e. material evidence) or that it is necessary for the photo to be retained in order to prevent its being "concealed, lost, damaged, altered or destroyed
" in order to seize it.
On James' description, however, neither of these apply here.
What makes it even less likely that this was a proper action is that, as I understand it, PCSO's don't have the full powers of stop and search that the police do. They have to be acting under some specific power, such as anti-terrorism legislation.
I agree that it seems worth reporting.