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Police reject regional daily’s bid to name rape and fraud suspects

Police have refused to tell a regional daily the names of some of its patch’s most wanted suspects – including alleged rapists and fraudsters.

Both Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies say allowing the Eastern Daily Press to publicly identify many of their most wanted would breach the suspects’ privacy.

The EDP had submitted a Freedom of Information request to both forces asking them for the details and pictures of the 15 suspects wanted for the longest period of time and the number of outstanding arrest warrants in each county.

Both refused the request, claiming it would breach the Data Protection Act, as well as an appeal by the EDP, citing the Human Rights Act in that instance.

Other forces, including Northamptonshire and Surrey, have released such details publicly in recent years.

Norfolk Police did name its top two suspects – Azzedin Journazi, who is wanted over a 2000 kidnapping, and Cyrus Ghiassy, who is wanted over a 1998 murder.

Of the unnamed 13, five are wanted for sex offences, including one for rape, while others are sought over crimes including burglary, fraud and deception.

The EDP splashed on the forces’ refusal on Thursday.

EDP criminals

An editorial on the subject reads: “Surely at some stage it is better to infringe a suspect’s right to privacy and show the public you are actively pursuing him or her, than to not name wanted suspects.

“Some of the reasons given by the police for keeping these identities secret are strange, to say the least. Suffolk police, in particular, argue that, because a suspect was not named at the time of the offence, they should not be named now.

“They argue that the public interest in naming the suspect decreases several years after a crime has been committed. We would say the opposite is true. If a crime has been committed and the suspect cannot be found, the importance of catching him or her increases each day the victim waits for justice.

“These suspects are of course, innocent until proven guilty and have a right to privacy. We do not believe all suspects with an outstanding warrant should be named. But a suspect wanted for a serious crime does not go on the run for years to prove their innocence.”

In August 2015 the Birmingham Mail reported that it also had been denied from naming 10 long-term on-the-run suspects by West Midlands Police because of “data protection rights”.

The force later committed a partial U-turn and named one of the men concerned.

5 comments

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  • August 22, 2017 at 11:32 am
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    Let’s put this another way. Would a journalist merely suspected, but not yet charged, with sexual assault want his name plastered over a paper or website. As the cops say, innocent until proven guilty. Especially when there is not even evidence to charge someone.

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  • August 22, 2017 at 12:23 pm
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    @paperboy We weren’t asking for the names of all suspects or everyone suspected of a crime. We asked for the names, ages and photos of the 15 wanted for the longest period of time. Some have been wanted since the mid-1990s for very serious crimes and our argument was if they have been wanted for such serious crimes for so long, police should release their details.

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  • August 22, 2017 at 1:03 pm
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    Given the fairly recent ‘agreement’ between South Yorkshire Police and Cliff Richard which, let’s not forget, all started with how the BBC covered a search of the pop star’s home due to allegations rather than charges, I’d say that Norfolk and Suffolk police are being rather prudent.

    The BBC has acknowledged the ‘distress’ the story caused and the police have actually apologised to him for it. However, while the High Court battle for compensation against the BBC is ongoing, I don’t think any police force in the country is wise to release similar information and, arguably, neither is any media outlet to publish it.

    The Data Protection Act argument around ‘distress’ is already established in case law and falsely accused suspects who can prove they lost their job or failed to get a job due to that information being made public could be entitled to compensation claims. See https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/principle-6-rights/compensation/

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  • August 22, 2017 at 6:33 pm
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    Surely at some stage it is better for a newspaper to accept its job is to report the news and let the police decide whether naming a suspect is in the best interests of solving the crime.

    This is just making news out of the fact that they were rebuffed.

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  • August 23, 2017 at 7:52 am
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    It would certainly help sell a few papers or get a few clicks on line which is what this is all about

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