A Police officer owned a rental property and became involved in a tenancy dispute with a tenant. Tenancy Services subsequently contacted the tenant at her new address. The address was not generally known and she had arranged for it not to be listed in the telephone book. The woman believed the officer must have obtained her address from the Police database. This was eventually confirmed as correct. She complained that his actions had interfered with her privacy.
Following investigation by the Police, the officer admitted that he had accessed the Police computer to obtain the woman's address. I thought this was a case where, without forming an opinion, I should attempt a settlement between the parties as provided by section 74 of the Privacy Act.
The woman said that she would accept an apology from the officer acknowledging that he had accessed the system, giving an assurance that he would not do so again and expressing regret.
An apology in these terms was made and I exercised my discretion given under section 71(1)(d) of the Privacy Act to discontinue the investigation. In these circumstances, I did not pursue possible issues concerning security and storage of information under principle 5. I did not need to consider reporting any breach of duty or misconduct to an appropriate authority under section 80 of the Act as the matter had already been the subject of an inquiry by Police Internal Affairs following a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority.
Indexing terms: Collecting personal information - Police officer, landlord - Accessing Police computer for personal use - Settlement by apology - Privacy Act 1993, s 71(1)(d), s 74, s 80