Police told to tone down naming and shaming... to spare criminals' families

Police should consider the feelings of criminals' families before they name and shame online.

In a move critics say puts the privacy of criminals before public protection, forces have been told they must remove details of crimes from their websites after a month.

Criminals' personal details and their offence should be routinely published, but their photographs can only be put on the web if there is a specific reason, the Ministry of Justice said.

Policeman

Police must now take into consideration how the criminal's family might be affected before putting their crimes online

And fresh Government guidance states police and councils should take into account the impact on the offenders' families of seeing their crimes detailed.

Data protection and human rights laws also restrict what can be published. The new rules state officials should also consider whether it is 'proportionate' to make the verdicts and sentences public and whether publishing details could have an 'unjustifiably adverse effect' on the criminal.

With minor crimes or first time offenders, police will be restricted from revealing details.

But instead of putting it on the web, forces can hand out leaflets or make information available at public meetings.

Jack Straw
Dominic Grieve

Justice Secretary Jack Straw (l) and Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve disagree on the new plans

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: 'If people are to have confidence in our criminal justice system, justice must be done - and be seen to be done.

'Individual crimes often get a lot of media coverage and news can spread across communities quickly. However, the news that someone has been caught, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced does not travel as far.

'This guidance explains that authorities can publish the details of crimes and the punishments criminals have received, and that the Government encourages them to do so.'

But Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said: 'This is too little, too late. We have long called for new rules to make it crystal clear that public protection - for police, prison and probation officers - comes before the privacy of criminals.

'That guidance should be clear and user-friendly for those on the front line, not vague and riddled with uncertainty.'

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