9 Feb 2022

Existing law could be used to take action against crime scene cleaning company - Jacinda Ardern

7:54 pm on 9 February 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has condemned a trauma cleaning company that has been posting graphic death-related images on social media.

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Illustration: Some of Crime Scene Cleaners' photos have garnered more than 100 reactions, dozens of comments, and shares. Photo: RNZ/Vinay Ranchhod

Crime Scene Cleaners has apologised yesterday after RNZ revealed photos of scenes of sudden deaths, suspected suicides and assaults had been published for nearly two years.

Clients have told RNZ they never permitted photos of their callouts to be published.

The Chief Coroner is assessing whether the Coroners Act has been breached, and the Acting Privacy Commissioner is calling for anyone who thinks their privacy has been breached, to make contact.

Publicly funded agencies, such as KiwiRail, Ports of Auckland, the Auckland and Christchurch City Councils and the Ministry of Justice have paid the business for work.

Ardern is unimpressed by the company's posts.

"The use of such images in a public way is just unacceptable. That is why I expect there are a number of pieces of legislation that are likely able to be used in order to take any action that might be deemed appropriate."

When asked if she wanted future publicly funded contracts to be ruled out, she said: "The contracting of such services - look that's just not a decision I could intervene in, I couldn't tell you for instance how many other services are available and what I imagine is they're a relatively limited area of expertise."

Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern says the awarding of future contracts to Crime Scene Cleaners is not up to her. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Acting Privacy Commissioner Liz MacPherson considers the posts a "potential privacy breach" and she is "deeply concerned and dismayed".

"The apparent breach of trust afforded to them (cleaners) by whānau - by their clients and others - is particularly disappointing."

She said her office took "a particularly dim view of this behaviour".

"These events are deeply personal and to violate that space by photographing and subsequently publicising them on social media is inherently wrong ... These are images of the context around people when they're at their most vulnerable, at times of great trauma and tragedy."

Organisations or individuals found to have breached privacy can be prosecuted and fined up to $10,000, if they do not comply with warning notices.

* To contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner call 0800 803 909 or email the enquiries@privacy.org.nz address.

  • Cleaners post crime, suspected and attempted suicide scene photos on social media
  • Trauma cleaning business apologises for graphic social media posts
  • Privacy Commissioner's office looking into cleaning business' photos posted online as 'potential privacy breach'