Ralph Hess is keeping diary accounts of discussions with police after his children were photographed by officers.
Ralph Hess is keeping diary accounts of discussions with police after his children were photographed by officers. Nat Bromhead

Fury over child mug shots

AT just seven years old, Jake Hess already has his mug shot on the Queensland Police Service database. But he has done nothing wrong.

Like other children across the state, the innocent Tinana boy had his picture snapped by a policeman for a simple reason: he was there.

Jake's dad Ralph Hess was horrified to learn that six of his children had been photographed by police who claimed they were “gathering intelligence” at Bargara recently.

Mr Hess said his son Jason, 19, had gone to the seaside town for a day out, and taken his siblings Jethro, 17; Josiah, 16; Johanna, 14; Jasmine, 10; and the baby of the family, Jake.

Jason was stopped by two police officers, who issued him with a summons for carrying six people in a car that only had five seatbelts. But after issuing the ticket, the officers ordered all of the children from the car and took snapshots of each of them — including the youngest.

When the youngsters told their father, he immediately called the police and asked to know why his children had been photographed without permission, and was shocked at the response.

“The police officer told me that taking photographs of children was an important part of intelligence gathering,” Mr Hess said.

“To photograph them without a warrant or reasonable belief they have done something wrong is a violation of their civil rights, even for the older ones.

“But for a kid as young as seven — that's just outrageous.”

He asked the police to delete the pictures but was told the matter would need to be referred to the Police Commissioner.

But as Mr Hess talked to his children further, he realised it was far from a one-off case.

Straight-A student Josiah admitted that he had been stopped and photographed before while taking a walk, and a mother told Mr Hess her daughter was snapped while waiting to be picked up at Maryborough.

The Chronicle was advised that under the Police Powers And Responsibilities Act 2000, Section 325, a police officer may record activities in a public place, including photographing adults or children without the need for a warrant or parental consent.

“The purpose of this practice includes to gather evidence and /or intelligence regarding an offence that has taken place, or to prevent offences taking place,” a QPS spokesman said.

The spokesman said police regularly photograph people for “street checks”, to help police locate offenders or exonerate people who were nearby when an offence was committed. The files are kept on an internal QPS database. The Hess children picture would be kept on file to support the prosecution case that they overloaded the car.

The spokesman said the police officer was honest and lawful in taking their photos.

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