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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable