“What does a Police Information Notice PIN (sometimes called a Protection Harassment Letter PHL) actually mean?”
The answer is “not very much legally speaking”, but they should not be ignored. You might think that if you receive a letter/notice telling you that you may have acted in a way which might be considered harassing to another, that means someone has decided you are guilty of harassment. Not so, says the High Court. In the case of Barbara Hewson v Metropolitan Police  EWHC 471, the Court decided that the letter issued to a practising barrister did not mean that she had harassed anyone. Neither was it unfair that the letter had been issued without giving her a chance to put her side to the story.
Inevitably, in cases of the sort, there are always two sides to the coin. When one side gets the police involved and the police lay down a marker in the form of a PIN/PHL, it may seem obvious that the police have taken sides. But have they?
What you can take from this case is that the issue of a PIN/PHL has no basis in law and that the recipient has no right to be heard before the notice/letter is issued. Once it has been issued, fair or not, the notice/letter draws a line in the sand. If you then ignore it, the notice/letter can be relied on as showing part of a course of conduct which could then be used to support a prosecution perhaps. Most importantly, in legal terms, the issue of a notice/letter does not breach the human rights of the person receiving it.
So, the receipt of PIN will be upsetting and is frequently perceived as really unfair but, although it has no legal force, it should not be ignored.
As the notice/letter has no legal force and does not judge the issue, the information contained in it is, it seems, not challengeable in court.
This does not mean to say that nothing can be done. If for instance, the making of a counter allegation is appropriate, we can advise.
How can Gotelee’s criminal law lawyers help you?
If you are under investigation or have been charged with an offence, we can assess your situation and advise you on the best way forward.