So much for those ACPO guidelines as Lancashire Police declines to reveal pic of serial flasher

A decision by Lancashire Police to stop releasing photos of people who have been jailed for less than 12 months is puzzling.

The force's press office says the step was part of its continuous review of policy and practice.

But it is out of step with Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidelines.

The row blew up when freelance Rebecca Koncienzcy requested a pic of a serial flasher and argued it was in the public interest.

Nick Evans, press and PR officer in the Lancashire police corporate communications, said in an email to journalists: 'We have taken the decision that we will no longer be releasing custody pictures of individuals imprisoned for less than 12 months immediate custody when they are sentenced, unless there are exceptional public interest reasons for doing so.

"This is for reasons of proportionality and, lesser so, demand. This new practice is effective immediately."

But ACPO guidelines make it clear that  custody photos of defendants should normally be released.

They add: "Forces are encouraged to engage with the media and be as open as possible.

"'The release of images … could assist with deterring potential criminals and preventing subsequent crime as well as encouraging other victims and witnesses to come forward."

The guidelines also deal with the issues of "proportionality", saying that releasing an image is acceptable if there is "community interest".

Lancashire's stance is also out of step with neighbouring forces in Greater Manchester and Liverpool.

Cleland Thom is a consultant in media law 

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