Feeds

Police slam internet justice - then use it themselves

What is contempt anyway?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Opinion Police and the courts are losing their patience with overenthusiastic net citizens, whose "helpful" sleuthing has caused trials to be abandoned and wasted tens of thousands from the public purse.

The police, however, seem a little less fastidious about protecting due process where they feel a little local publicity will do them good.

It is now almost two years since Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge of Draycote was bemoaning the damage done to trials by jurors doing their own private researches outside the court room. He cited one rape trial which had to be abandoned for just this reason. More recently, he has taken stronger action, requiring courts to warn jurors that private investigation on their part could lead to the quashing of convictions.

Last week, it was the turn of the National Detectives Forum, a specialist unit which advises the Police Federation, to call time on the amateurs, as it revealed that a number of trials had collapsed after victims and witnesses played detective, browsing Facebook and Twitter to find a suspect.

The Daily Mail reports one case, in which an individual attacked outside a house party then found their alleged assailant on Facebook. The suspect was arrested for the assault, but evidence from a subsequent identity parade was ruled inadmissible when it was discovered that both the victim and witnesses had viewed the suspect's Facebook photograph numerous times.

Dennis Weeks, secretary of the National Detective Forum, said: “Witnesses and victims are conducting their own investigations of their own crimes when they are not effectively taught or equipped to do so and are subverting laws that they are not even aware of.

"They think that they are making our life easier when in fact they are making the prospect of a prosecution against the offender much more difficult."

Given the dangers of publicising ongoing investigations, it might be expected that the police themselves would be careful with how they release information to the press. However, two cases brought to public attention in the Guardian last week suggest that the police are a lot less strict in what they themselves do in this respect.

First up is the case of six "persistent" sex workers who, the Met told us, had "rejected a raft of supportive measures aimed at helping them change their behaviour". The police decided that there was nothing else for it than to apply for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) against the individuals involved – and then to place their pictures, full names and dates of birth up on the Met’s website. In this case, the pics were up for a month, which is the length of time the police considered "appropriate".

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.