Can police make calls from a suspect's phone to the phone owner's voicemail account without a warrant? | LawHive - Solicitors & Lawyers Online
Can police make calls from a suspect's phone to the phone owner's voicemail account without a warrant?
Whilst police can and do sieze suspects phones snd extract a copy of data can they without warrant actually make calls from that phone to the phone owners voicemail account ? I cant find the answer anywhere so if anyone out there has any knowledge on this it would be great thankyou

Nancy Headley

20th October 2021

1 upvote

Top Answer
Is this a question over something that has already happened, or something you think might happen in a case that's currently with the police ?

Emily Foster

11th February 2022


That's a really good question. I think that the [News of the World case]( decided that a stored voicemail message was "still in the course of transmission", so for the police to access it they would need appropriate lawful intercept authority, which isn't the same as a warrant, but it *is* an authority that needs to be approved by either the new authorities body (OCDA) or by a senior police officer in urgent cases. If this has actually happened then it may well be worth speaking to a solicitor with some expert knowledge.

Jennie Cook

11th February 2022



Essentially, authorisation will most likely be needed. A voicemail is still in the course of transmission even when it's been listened to by the recipient - the transmission continues until the system is no longer used to store it and whilst the recipient has access, see [ Coulson & Anor v R [2013] EWCA Crim 1026]( Lord Judge LCJ: > The issue to be determined therefore is **whether, on the proper construction of section 2(7), the period of storage referred to comes to an end on first access or collection by the intended recipient or whether it continues beyond such first access for so long as the system is used to store the communication in a manner which enables the intended recipient to have subsequent or even repeated access to it.** [..] > > In our view these words in their natural meaning are entirely apt to cover a situation, such as that presently under consideration, where a message having been initially received by the intended recipient is stored in the communications system where the intended recipient may thereafter have access to it by playing back the message. In this regard it is significant that the intended recipient cannot gain access to the voicemail message without resort to the telecommunication system, but is totally dependent on the system. **In these circumstances, there is no good reason why the first receipt of the communication should be considered as bringing the transmission to an end nor is there any support for this within the statutory language.** We consider that it is readily apparent from the plain words that it was the intention of Parliament that section 2(7) should extend the course of transmission to include this situation. > Furthermore, we are led to the same conclusion on the application of the mischief rule. As Fulford L.J. put it: > **"I accept, therefore, that the period of storage covered by the section does not come to an end on first access or collection by the intended recipient, but it continues for so long as the system is used to store the communication, and whilst the intended recipient has access to it in this way. In a comprehensive fashion, this covers the vice that in my view the provision was intended to address, namely unauthorized access to communications, whether oral or text, whilst they remain on the system by which they were transmitted. As the prosecution submits, unlawful access and intrusion is not somehow less objectionable because the message has been read or listened to by the intended recipient before the unauthorized access takes place."** And such that will require authorisation under either PACE for a production order etc. or an authorisation under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This is different to the authority to search a device of a suspect including by copying its data (e.g. if the message was stored locally).

Patricia Garcia

11th February 2022



All the comments and pasted materials hugely appreciated Thankyou all

Nancy Headley

11th February 2022

1 upvote

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