Arrest first, investigate later

August 16, 2016

Recent revelations concerning Lynne Owen’s policy of arresting rape suspects before investigating their case when she was chief constable of Surrey police have caused concern to some. It’s perhaps understandable that the police would want to secure forensic evidence in such a situation, and they have a very difficult task trying to do justice to both the complainant and the suspect. However there may be cause to balance the benefits of early arrest against the very great risk of harm caused by arresting an innocent person.
Many members of FACT will have personal experience of this and can testify to the lasting damage that has resulted. Possible consequences of arrest of an innocent person are loss of reputation, being shunned in their neighbourhood and even risk of harm from vigilante groups. Their employer will often perform their own internal investigations and these may lead to the employee being suspended or dismissed.
Being in prolonged bail is intensely distressing, with serious risks to mental and physical health as a consequence. Restrictive bail conditions may be put in place, severely limiting their liberty.
There is an interesting article about the harms caused by prolonged bail, here on the Justice Gap website.

 

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