Anonymity For Suspects Who Are Not Yet Charged

handcuff_150The right to anonymity for suspects of criminal matters has been backed by Home Secretary Theresa May amid concerns about inconsistent policy among forces.

In a letter to the new College of Policing, which now sets national police standards and policies, she says that with regards to some police forces, who refused to name suspects who had been charged, it “undermines transparency in the criminal justice system and risks the possibility that witnesses and other victims might not come forward”.

She continued, “I strongly believe that there should be no right to anonymity at charge apart from in extremely unusual circumstances.

“I believe there should be a right to anonymity at arrest, but I know that there will be circumstances in which the public interest means that an arrested suspect should be named.”

A survey by the Daily Mail last week found that 14 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales will only name suspects the day before they are due to appear in court.

David Cameron commented that “I know some people want to connect it specifically with Leveson.

“But actually it’s a long-standing debate about how to get the balance right between making things public, which as Theresa has said should be the working assumption, but also respecting privacy where that is appropriate.

“It’s a very difficult balance to get right. On the one hand, sometimes making public the details of the arrest can help to bring forward evidence and bring forward potential victims. Therefore it is completely in the public interest.

“Sometimes it is right to respect the privacy of the individual because the publicity around these sorts of arrests can be genuinely life-changing. There is no simple answer to this.”

If you find yourself needing advice or representation at a police station interview then you can get in touch with MJP solicitors. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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