Let us see crooks’ faces

Let us hope that the police take note of Andy Trotter, who specialises in media issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

He wrote to UK forces this month reiterating guidance on the release of police photos that was first issued in 2010, Press Gazette reported.

Recognising that there is enormous public interest in pictures of convicted felons, he reminded forces that the presumption should be that they are issued unless there is a good reason not to.

Frustratingly, the opposite seems to be case for many forces.

A Mail on Sunday report brought attention to what many of us in the regional press have had to face for some years.

There are times when it seems photos are released almost grudgingly.

Baffling criteria are applied to when a picture can or cannot be made available. For instance, impractical single-use restrictions are applied, and bans are issued on pictures of people whose sentences fail to exceed arbitrary lengths decreed by the police.

Overall, the impression given is that the primary concern in this area is protecting the criminal.

The Data Protection Act is inevitably cited (as if it were ever intended as a shield for criminals) when newspapers complain.

People need to see the face of those who break laws. It shows that our system of justice is working and that criminals are receiving their just deserts.

Mr Trotter’s reminder is most welcome.


About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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