Police in Northumbria have said they took the decision not to tell journalists about an alleged sexual assault involving a Syrian refugee because it would have “frustrated” their investigation.
Three young men and a teenage boy have appeared in court charged with sexual assault offences against two teenage girls in a park in Newcastle. Journalists were not told of the incident or of the charges.
One of the four charged is understood to be a Syrian national who has been allowed into the country under the Government’s resettlement programme, according to BBC Newsnight.
The programme was established as a response to the worsening crisis in Europe and the Middle East, with Prime Minister David Cameron having pledged to take in up to 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said that the force did not release details of every investigation to the media.
“In relation to this incident, the arrests were made within 48 hours of the report and we had an idea from the beginning of the investigation who these men were and how we could locate and arrest them,” he said.
“We needed to carry out inquiries and there was no need for a public witness appeal and there was no danger to the wider public. Had we proactively released details of the incident then it could have frustrated our investigation.”
The response was issued after coverage questioning why police chose to “keep quiet” about the alleged attacks ran in the Mail on Sunday and on BBC Newsnight on Friday.
Appearing before Newcastle Crown Court on one count of sexual assault were Omar Marwan Badreddin, 18, from Newcastle, and Mohammad Allakkoud, also 18, from Newcastle.
The 17-year-old boy, who cannot be indentified for legal reasons, also faces one charge of sexual assault. He will appear at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in September.
Mohammed Hamdan Alfrouh, 20, from Newcastle, faces two counts of sexual assault.