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Newly adopted: Practical Guide on the use of personal data in the police sector: how to protect personal data while combatting crime.

16 February 2018
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Newly adopted: Practical Guide on the use of personal data in the police sector: how to protect personal data while combatting crime.

The Practical Guide on the use of personal data in the police sector, adopted by the Consultative Committee of the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (“Convention 108”), gives guidance and concrete examples to emphasise that preventing and combatting crime, including through the use of personal data for law enforcement purposes, can be efficiently conducted in compliance with the law. 

The collection and use of personal data for law enforcement purposes constitutes an interference with the right to private life and data protection. As such, it must be based on law, pursue a legitimate aim and be limited to what is necessary and proportionate to achieve that legitimate aim.

The Guide was prepared to highlight the most important issues that may arise in the use of personal data in the police sector in the digital age and to point out the key elements to be considered in that context. It concentrates on practical guidance and aims to help the police to strike a proper balance between its essential objectives of general public interest and the respect for the rights of individuals to privacy and data protection. 

Recommendation (87)15 regulating the use of personal data in the police sector provides a general set of principles to be applied to ensure the respect for the right to private life and data protection as provided for by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human rights and by Convention 108.

That recommendation has undergone several evaluations of its application and relevance (in 1993, 1998 and 2002). In 2010, the Consultative Committee of Convention 108 decided to carry out a survey on the use of personal data across Europe by the police (see Report “Twenty–five years down the line” – by Joseph A. Cannataci). This evaluation highlighted that the principles of Recommendation (87)15 continued to provide a sound basis for the elaboration of regulations on this issue at a domestic level and that the preparation of a practical guide on the use of personal data by the police, based on the principles of the recommendation, would provide guidance on what the principles imply at an operational level. 

The Guide was therefore prepared to highlight the most important issues that may arise in the use of personal data in the police sector and to point out the key privacy and data protection elements to be considered in that context. It does not repeat the provisions of Convention 108 nor those of Recommendation (87)15 but concentrates on practical guidance.