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In Hellewell v Chief Constable of Derbyshire [1995] 1 WLR 804, Laws J considered a police practice of providing photos to shopkeepers of individuals known to be causing trouble in the area so that they could recognise them. The traders were told not to display the photographs and show them only to staff. He said at page 810:

"In my judgment, the use which the police may make of a photograph such as this is limited by their obligations to the photograph’s subject as follows. They may make reasonable use of it for the purpose of the prevention and detection of crime, the investigation of alleged offences and the apprehension of suspects or persons unlawfully at large. They may do so whether or not the photograph is of any person they seek to arrest or of a suspected accomplice or of anyone else. The key is that they must have these and only these purposes in mind and must, as I have said, make no more than reasonable use of the picture in seeking to accomplish them."

This is a nice and succinct summary of the legal position, and it is important to note that the decision pre-dates the Human Rights Act 1998, and was based upon an assessment of UK domestic law. It is therefore to be hoped that if any questions are asked about the human rights compatibility of publishing these photographs, the HRA is not unfairly maligned.