Smith and Department of Police
Smith and Queensland Police Service
(2000 S0133, 9 November 2001)
The applicant sought access to a videotape recording made by the QPS of environmental protesters conducting a demonstration at Port Hinchinbrook in 1999. Noting principles stated by the Information Commissioner to the effect that information which indicates or suggests that an identifiable individual has been involved in some alleged criminal activity or other wrongdoing, or has otherwise been the subject of police investigation, surveillance or intelligence gathering, is properly to be characterised as information concerning the personal affairs of that individual (see Ainsworth and Criminal Justice Commission (1999) 5 QAR 284 at paragraph 141), the Deputy Information Commissioner decided that the appearance of the protesters on the videotape was in connection with an investigation or intelligence-gathering exercise by the QPS, and that the contents of the videotape must properly be characterised as information concerning the personal affairs of the relevant individuals, under s.44(1) of the FOI Act.
Applying the public interest balancing test incorporated in s.44(1), the Deputy Information Commissioner stated that he was unaware of any issues about the accountability of the QPS that might be furthered by disclosure of the information contained on the videotape. He further stated that he was unable to discern any other public interest considerations favouring disclosure of the videotape that might be strong enough to outweigh the public interest in protecting the privacy of individuals who appear in police records as the result of police surveillance or intelligence gathering exercises. He decided that the videotape was exempt from disclosure under s.44(1) of the FOI Act.