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Police given approval to use cameras November 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Police & Crime.
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Evidence is admissible in court > Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas yesterday gave police the green light to record street protests with traffic cameras and use the footage as court evidence if criminal acts were committed during the demonstration.

“The protection (of protesters) is understandable only if they demonstrate in a law-abiding manner and not illegally,” said Sanidas.

The decision allows police to position closed-circuit cameras for public gatherings, such as protest marches and sports events, and then to use any incriminating videotape evidence to identify and prosecute those who have committed crimes.

Sanidas clarified however that police do not have the right to confiscate footage from television crews or passers-by for the purpose of using it as evidence in court.

Greece spent some 250 million euros on the surveillance package for the Athens Olympics in 2004, part of which was used to purchase and install some 300 CCTV cameras. But the cameras are not being used due to the intervention of the privacy watchdog, the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD), which recently fined police 3,000 euros after finding that 49 of its cameras were still not operating with software that blurs people’s faces.

The watchdog also found that images from some of the cameras were kept for more than seven days, thereby breaking privacy provisions. Sanidas’s decision comes at a time when police are expecting an increase in street demonstrations due to controversial reforms being prepared by the conservative government in education and the social security system.

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said there needs to be a balance between personal rights and the interests of society. “Society’s interests are too big to be sacrificed in the name of individual interests,” he said.

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