With Human Rights becoming more and more of an issue worldwide, especially in much of the developed world, there is a thin line on whether searches of any equipment are lawful, and there are huge questions on the circumstances on which they are and are not.
It is widely accepted that there is a requirement of respect for privacy, whether that be private life or work life, however the majority of the population understands that there is also a requirement for this to be broken in certain circumstances.
One of these circumstances is a breach of the law, however there should be certain conditions to this, including whether searching a mobile phone would be considered necessary to uncover further crimes or prove charges that have been put forward, or whether it would be considered against a persons rights in doing so. There is always a thin line on what steps are going too far and what are necessary.
Under normal circumstances, nobody goes near my phone; not my partner, nor my family, nor anyone I work with, however if records recorded on the device would prove my innocence in a case, I would be perfectly happy for someone to look at the relevant records. At the same time, I have had my phone searched after being stopped by police on the road, where I felt the ‘Who are the children on your front screen?’ ‘Where was this photo taken?’ an invasion of privacy, especially when I was never arrested afterwards, let alone charged with any offence; my criminal record check means more to me than anything, as without it, I can’t work.
Phone checks, if not voluntary, should require approval of the courts, not that of a senior Constable, as this is open to abuse and often will be approved with little, if any suspicion that what is taking place is the correct procedure, and many requests will be approved automatically if internal for the ‘purpose of detecting a crime,’ or to put it more bluntly to try and find anything to arrest for, when much of the time there are no grounds at all for this to happen. In these circumstances, I would more than happy to refuse, be arrested and later released without charge, as this will immediately damage the public perception of police, however many feel that because someone is in uniform, they have the right to do exactly what they like, which is often not the case.
It’s up to you to a judge whether the proposed actions are in keeping with what the required standard and the necessity, and more importantly up to you to defend your own rights.