The Privacy Commissioner has upheld the Police refusing to release notes of an interview to a former partner. The former partner had applied for a firearms licence and their then partner had been interviewed by the Police as part of that process.

After the couple split up, they became involved in a Court dispute and the former partner was accused of criminal activity. He applied to the Police for copies of the notes made of his partner’s interview. The Police refused on the basis that release of the information would cause significant distress to a victim of an offence, release would be an unwarranted disclosure of another person’s information and release would prejudice the maintenance of the law.

The Privacy Commissioner upheld the refusal to release the information on all three claimed grounds as the Police were able to show:

  • the significant impact it would cause to the person (as a victim of an offence) if their interview notes were released to their former partner.
  • the significant impact on the person interviewed meant that any release would be unwarranted, and
  • that release would impact on the maintenance of the law, as people would not speak to the police if their interviews would be made available when witnesses expected confidentiality.

Making decisions when there is a request for release of information can be a tricky minefield to navigate. It is wise to get advice from a professional experienced in the area.

Alan Knowsley