Police forces have used a loophole to access phone and email records, it has been claimed
Police forces have used a legal loophole to access hundreds of answerphone messages, texts and emails, it has been claimed.
Police are said to have obtained phone records from members of the public under a loophole in surveillance laws which allowed them to view stored messages.
The public are protected from having live messages and emails accessed by police without a warrant being granted by the home secretary.
An investigation by the Times newspaper now claims officers can circumnavigate restrictions for messages that are sent and in storage, by obtaining a production order from a judge.
It alleges British police forces have accessed hundreds of messages in the last three years, with one mobile phone operator receiving around 150 production orders a month.
West Midlands police did so on 329 occasions during a three-year period, it claims, with Northumbria police obtaining 72 production orders, Merseyside 25 and Thames Valley 16.
Gavin Millar, QC, whose areas of expertise include privacy, told the newspaper the system requires an “oversight mechanism” to prevent it being misused.
The Home Office said: “A production order will only be agreed by a judge if the request meets strict criteria.”
Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.DailyDDoSe © 2007-2014