Ofcom has found that an episode of Police Interceptors that included footage of Police questioning a man who was later convicted of drink driving did not breach the Code because there was a substantial public interest in making and broadcasting the programme in the circumstances.

The episode, broadcast on Channel 5 In October last year included footage of Yorkshire Police stopping and questioning a man called Sabeel Nawaz who then underwent a breathalyser test in the back of a police car before being taken to the police station for a second test. He was later convicted of drink driving, banned for 14 months, and had to pay £235 in fines and costs.

Mr Nawaz complained to Ofcom that his privacy was unwarrantably infringed by the making and broadcast of the programme because he was shown without his consent being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Mr Nawaz said that he could “not afford to be seen drinking” because it was against his religion and that the broadcast of the programme had “severely tarnished” his reputation.

Ofcom decided that although Mr Nawaz had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the police car and at the police station – and had not consented to the filming – the programme did not breach the Code because there was a substantial public interest in the circumstances

In particular, Ofcom noted in its decision that there is substantial public interest in the work of the police being examined in broadcast programmes and in showing the varied and often difficult incidents experienced by police officers in their work. Ofcom considered that there was a genuine public interest in the making of this programme and that these programmes can help to develop the public’s understanding of the range of situations dealt with by the police, including drink driving, and of the dangers and consequences of illegal and potentially dangerous conduct.

The decision is a welcome reminder, and similar to the decision above, that even when a person’s privacy rights are engaged and they do not consent to being filmed, there is still cope to collect and use footage in such cases in programmes that feature the work of the police and expose criminality.