The Association of Chief Police Officers media head Andy Trotter has insisted that police forces can still name suspects like Stuart Hall on arrest under controversial new guidelines published in May.
They state that normally police forces will only name the suspects of crime once they have been charged, not after they have been arrested. The Society of Editors has warned that in cases like that of Hall, many victims only came forward because of publicity around an arrest.
Trotter said: “Stuart Hall was arrested in the morning and charged in the evening. If they had wanted to release his name on arrest because they wanted more victims to come forward they could have done so under the new guidance.
“Previously names would have been released because there was a relationship with a particular journalist, and some of those relationships were not above board. We are not going to go back to those days. We want to move on to a proper professional relationship where everyone understands each other’s position.”
Earlier this month, The Mail on Sunday reported that more than half of police forces in England and Wales are refusing to release photos of convicted offenders unless they are jailed – in contravention of ACPO guidance issued in 2010.
Last week Trotter wrote to all police forces reminding them of guidance which encourages them to release pictures of all convicted criminals in order to “assist with deterring potential criminals and preventing subsequent crime as well as encouraging other victims and witnesses to come forward”.
Trotter said: “Crime is going down and the prisons are full. Something is going right somewhere. Part of that is getting the information out there that the criminal justice system actually works.”
Asked why police officers seem far less accessible to journalists today than they were ten years ago, Trotter said: “The world has changed in all sorts of way. You would go through the incidents book in person with the journalist from the local paper.
“There are far fewer police stations now and trying to get a journalist from a local or regional newspaper out and away from their desk is much more difficult.
“We don’t have detective sergeants sitting down with a journalist anymore and going through incidents. We have professional media staff who are paid less and are much better at the job.”
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