Names of suspects to be kept secret by cops under new guidelines

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 21: Metropolitan Police officers outside the Houses of Parliament on March 21, 2023 in London, England. A report published today of behavioural standards and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service, conducted by Baroness Louise Casey and commissioned in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, suggested the force could be broken up if it fails to improve. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

NAMES of criminal defendants could be kept secret by police under new guidelines being drawn up.

The College of Policing is revising its media advice to forces and urging them to be more cautious about naming suspects when they are charged.

Names of suspects could be kept secret by police under new guidelines

Current guidelines say defendants “should” be identified — but are being revised to say they “can” be named.

The CoP wants officers to decide on a case-by-case basis.

But Dawn Alford, from the Society of Editors, accused the proposals of undermining open justice with “unprecedented restrictions on the flow of information”.

She added that “misplaced concerns around data protection and defendants’ privacy rights are being used as a basis to allow forces to choose which criminal charges they confirm to the media”.

Ms Alford said the Society is in dialogue with the CoP to “reverse these Draconian proposals and strengthen, rather than restrict, the public’s right to know”.

A CoP spokesman said last night: “The guidance requires updating following the introduction of new data protection legislation.”