High Court dismisses “sexting” challenge
The High Court today handed down judgment in R (CL) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police  EWHC 3333 (Admin), a case concerning the retention of data by the police in respect of “sexting” allegations against a minor.
Charlotte Ventham acted for the Chief Constable.
The Claimant, who was aged 14 and 15 at the relevant times, had allegedly been involved in three separate incidents of “sexting” involving other pupils at his school. The allegations came to the attention of the police who recorded the second and third incidents in a crime report which identified the Claimant in the “offender details” section.
The Claimant was informed of the creation of the crime report relating to the second incident and challenged its retention through a judicial review claim. In the course of those proceedings, the police disclosed the existence of the crime report relating to the third incident, about which the Claimant had not been previously been informed in the best interests of the (child) complainant. He then brought a second judicial review challenging the recording and retention of that crime report.
The Court rejected as unarguable the Claimant’s claim that the recording of the later crime report (in circumstances where the Claimant had had no knowledge of it or any opportunity to respond) breached his article 6 rights. There had been no criminal proceedings (or even a criminal investigation), the Claimant had not been “accused” of anything and he had not therefore been “charged with a criminal offence” within the meaning of article 6.
The Claimant further challenged the retention of both crime reports on article 8 grounds. The Court held, however, that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Catt and T that the systematic collection and storage of retrievable data by the police was in accordance with the law applied regardless of the fact that an alleged offender was a minor; and that appropriate safeguards existed against the arbitrary disclosure of retained information. The Court further held that the retention of data about the Claimant was, in all the circumstances of this case, proportionate to the legitimate aims of preventing crime and protecting the rights and freedoms of others.