We should have anonymity for people who have been arrested but not charged, says Theresa May

 

Criminal suspects who have been arrested should not normally be named until they are charged, the Home Secretary has said.

In a letter to the recently formed professional standards body, the College of Policing, Theresa May said she was concerned by reports that some forces have refused to name suspects who have been charged.

But Mrs May said she does believe in protecting the identities of suspects at point of arrest and has asked the College, led by chief executive Alex Marshall, to draw up clearer guidance.

However, confusion emerged when David Cameron appeared to offer a conflicting view to the Home Secretary's as he insisted there should be a "working assumption" that police name suspects who have been arrested.

The Prime Minister spoke out amid concern that police forces are increasingly taking a default position of withholding identities of those arrested and even charged, although his spokesman insisted he agrees with Mrs May.

The Home Secretary wrote: "I am concerned that the refusal of some police forces to name suspects who have been charged undermines transparency in the criminal justice system and risks the possibility that witnesses and other victims might not come forward.

"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."

Warwickshire Police came under fire for initially refusing to name a retired police officer charged with theft.

Warwickshire Police, who eventually performed a U-turn and revealed the identity of the retired officer facing the allegations as Paul Greaves, originally claimed they had altered guidance in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

Addressing this issue, Mrs May wrote: "I understand the Leveson Inquiry might have had an effect on the behaviour of police forces.

"In fact, Lord Leveson's report did not make any substantive recommendations in relation to anonymity so I would like police forces to be aware of this fact."

Speaking to reporters during his US trip, Mr Cameron said the issue was "long-standing".

He said: "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."

Mr Cameron said there have been "terrible events" following the naming of arrested suspects and alluded to the case of Christopher Jeffries, who sued several newspapers for their coverage of his arrest on suspicion of the murder of Joanna Yeates in Bristol.

Another man, Vincent Tabak, was ultimately found guilty of the landscape architect's murder.

Mr Cameron added: "But I saw Theresa's approach in advance and I think it's the right one."

Warwickshire's decision not to name Greaves sparked fierce criticism from the region's deputy police and crime commissioner, Eric Wood, who said he was "extremely disappointed".

Freedom of expression campaigners also attacked the decision, understood to be the first such move by any police force in the country, arguing that it went against the UK's principle of open justice.

Greaves has been charged with the theft of £113,000 from the former Warwickshire Police headquarters at Leek Wootton and will appear before magistrates in Leamington Spa on May 22.

PA

Sport
footballLIVE: All the latest from today's Premier League matches
News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Arts and Entertainment
The star dances on a balcony in the video
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines