Saturday, 7 June 2008

Civil libertarians angered by police website

Civil liberties campaigners have attacked a new Crimestoppers website that encourages Canberrans to help police solve crimes.

The website displays mugshots of wanted criminals, CCTV images of people who police want to contact because they have witnessed crimes, and a secure information line to police.

Bill Rowlings from Civil Liberties Australia says that invades the privacy of innocent bystanders.

"It's not reasonable if you are walking down the street or going on a bus or going about your business that suddenly you are plastered all over a website by the police when you have done nothing wrong," he said.

"They can generally appeal for witnesses, people know whether they were near an event or a crime or whatever."

But Police Minister Simon Corbell says the website obeys all federal laws, and privacy does not automatically trump competing concerns.

Civil liberties are very important and protection of people's privacy is a very important consideration but that does need to be balanced against broader public interest in solving crime and achieving a safe community.

Police say they hope the website will lead to more arrests.

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