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

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
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

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories