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Echo prevented from showing pic of pervert

Dorset police has refused to let the Daily Echo use a force picture of a man who raped a ten-year-old girl because of vigilante fears over the man, who has been jailed for eight years.

The paper wanted to use a police headshot because the rapist has been in custody throughout the court process, before being sentenced over two rapes and three indecent assaults.

It instead printed a front page (left) with a blank space and a statement: “Peter Renyard raped a ten-year-old girl and sexually assaulted a seven-year-old. This page should include a photograph of this sick individual… but police informed us they would supply pictures of convicted paedophiles only ‘in exceptional circumstances’. Just how ‘exceptional’ do they have to get?”

The paper believes the public has a right to know who such people are, and that identification serves as a warning to the public as well as a deterrent to potential offenders.

The police replied to the paper’s request citing the views of the Dangerous Offenders Strategy Group, which thought it “generally not productive” to issue pictures, and that pictures were not released unless there were exceptional circumstances.

Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell said: “It’s not about vigilanteism or mistaken identity.

“When someone is convicted in a courtroom people can turn up and see them there.

“The principle is that the wider public should also be able to see them in newspapers and on television.

“It should be a matter of routine to release pictures like this, for anyone who is convicted in court, unless there is a good reason it should not be released, the opposite of what is operating in this instance.”

But Det Supt Phil James said: “There are a lot of disadvantages in releasing photographs of convicted sex offenders and no advantages.”

The fact that Renyard was in prison also raised the question of what purpose running the picture would have.

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©NEP 2002