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Were the police right to name people charged with drink driving?
- AuthorMichael Pace
Over the festive period Lincolnshire Police took the decision to name and shame people charged with drink or drug-driving on social media.
Currently the law allows for the publishing of a person’s name once they have been charged with an offence but in general, this is very rarely done save for serious cases of murder or rape. However, we must ask ourselves, is it correct to do so even then?
The recent case of a young man who was charged with rape highlights how questionable this procedure is. Liam Allen (22) suffered public humiliation for two years while on bail waiting for his case to go to court. His trial collapsed after just three days because of a failure by the prosecution (police and/or CPS) to disclose that they had a log of his telephone calls and transcripts which backed up what he said in his defence.
The police argue that very few people are found not guilty but that is not the point. In this country, a person is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The police claim they are naming and shaming people charged with drink driving to act as a deterrent to others. They are therefore assuming the person is guilty.
Earlier in 2017 I represented someone who was charged with drink driving which carries an automatic disqualification. In court, the charge was amended to one of drunk in charge, which is a less serious offence and does not carry a mandatory disqualification. It is an offence committed in quite different circumstances.
As part of Lincolnshire Police’s latest drink and drug drive campaign, she would have been named and shamed even though she was not guilty of the offence.
According to the British constitution, which is unwritten, there are three bodies of power: Parliament, the Executive (the Cabinet) and the Judiciary – all of which are independent of each other. The job of the police is to report the facts to the CPS who make an independent decision on whether to prosecute or not. The judiciary (the courts) determine guilt after hearing the evidence.
If the police continue to usurp their position, as in my opinion they are doing, then they are in fact undermining the constitution and the rule of law. This situation must stop before real harm is caused to innocent people.