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Can the police seize my camera footage?


I spotted your tweet yesterday about the guy who was jailed for speeding. The police took his memory card and discovered evidence of him filming himself breaking the speed limit. This got me thinking. I have a camera attached to my helmet. Do I have to hand over the footage if I am pulled over by the police? I don’t want to potentially incriminate myself! I thought it was a good idea to show fault if there was an accident now I am in two minds.

Anonymous, by e-mail


That chap was apparently pulled over for pulling a wheelie (dangerous driving) and then they confiscated his memory card and discovered the offences. The majority of the police’s powers to seize are found in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. The police have the power to seize an item if there are reasonable grounds for believing that it is evidence relating to an offence. What is considered ‘reasonable’ is often easily established by a police officer if they simply believe an offence has been committed, even if later it is found that there was no offence. If the police simply stop you for no reason it would be difficult to see why they would need to seize your camera. If, however, they think you have been involved in an offence, such as speeding, they could lawfully seize the camera and a refusal could lead to further criminal charges.

If you are involved in an accident any footage would be useful to establish blame or liability. While it may be in your favour to rely on it, it may also show that you were to blame for an accident. You may not, therefore, want your opponent to see it. In any personal injury claim there is a duty to disclose any document that is pertinent to the claim, be it adverse or favourable to your claim. You would therefore have to disclose the video footage if it is material to the accident. If you are aware of the existence of the footage and you fail to notify your opponent you could be held in contempt of court. Alternatively, it could be found that you are trying to mislead or hide the facts and as such your claim could fail for reasons of “fundamental dishonesty”.


AQA (low-res PDF)

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