Police in Selby are asking people to think twice before posting picture of people they believe have been involved in crimes.
It’s because of the risk of affecting the outcome of any prosecutions.
Sgt Jack Waterton of the Selby Neighbourhood Policing Group has been explaining why he’s concerned at what he sees on the likes of Facebook and Twitter in a special interview on the Save Our Selby Facebook page and YorkMix Radio.
This is what Sergeant Jack Waterton said: “When we’re conducting investigations where CCTV has been reviewed for potential identification purposes, we have to disclose everything that may be put on social media.
“That could undermine a case, if it’s seen as potentially leading a witness into making an identification for our purposes purely than just seeing someone and being able to identify them.”
So we asked him if he was saying people should never post pictures of potential criminal suspects.
“It’s obviously a sensitive subject, because people do want to highlight what’s happened in their community.
“The question I would ask is, by putting this picture online, could it have an impact on an investigation.
“When someone puts a picture or a video, at that time, it may not seem to be very relevant, but later down the line, it could become very pertinent to an investigation and could undermine something which ultimately could result in a case not being seen at court and the offender getting away with it.
“So it could have quite a detrimental effect.”
We asked him if he had seen cases being thrown out of court because of this.
“It is certainly a possibility the defence could raise that. And identification is one of the factors that the defence do look at often, to try and undermine a case.
“Cases have been lost at court due to a breach of the code of PACE, that is the legislation that governs identification during an investigation.
“So cases will have been lost before”
We put it to him that the police often release video footage and pictures of people wanted in connection with crimes so why is that different?
“If we release videos and images it can be for a number of different reasons, but one of them would be we normally do it AFTER a court case has finished and we can release such videos.
“If we’re releasing images of persons that we need to speak to that will have been considered beforehand whether it is a required line of inquiry, and it will all be documented as to exactly why we’re releasing that image.
“It could have an impact and we will consider it closely when releasing images during investigations.”