Police face 'name and shame' limit

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said more should be done to give people confidence in the justice system

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said more should be done to give people confidence in the justice system

First published in National News © by

Police forces which "name and shame" criminals must remove the details from their websites after a month, according to new rules.

Criminals' personal details, such as their name, age, where they are from and their offence, should be published routinely, the Ministry of Justice said.

But officers will need a specific reason to publish photographs. The detailed rules state there should be a "presumption" in favour of making public case information from the Crown and Magistrates' Courts.

But data protection and human rights laws mean there are restrictions on what is published, how it is made public and for how long. Police and town halls should take into account the impact of publishing on the offenders' family, the guidance says.

Officials should also consider whether it is "proportionate" to make the verdicts and sentences public and whether publishing personal details could have an "unjustifiably adverse effect" on the criminal.

They can consider saying just that "someone" has been convicted of a crime without revealing the specific details of who, if that is enough to reassure the public. With minor crimes they can say only the number committed and how many were dealt with and not publish any more details.

Fears about the long term "adverse consequences" of publication on criminals mean the data might be limited to people who live near where the crime is committed.

Instead of putting it on the web, forces can hand out leaflets or make information available at public meetings, the guidance says. "Online publicity needs to be justified, and will not usually be appropriate for minor offences/sentences or for first time offenders," the document states.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: "If people are to have confidence in our criminal justice system, justice must be done - and be seen to be done.

"Individual crimes often get a lot of media coverage and news can spread across communities quickly that a crime has been committed. However, the news that someone has been caught, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced does not travel as far. It is vital people know that criminals will not escape the consequences of their crimes."

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