Balancing the Need to Publicise Rape Cases

The Birmingham Post (England), October 9, 1998 | Go to article overview

Balancing the Need to Publicise Rape Cases


Sir, - I write in reference to the article 'Anger as police withhold rape details' (Post, Oct 5).

We do not automatically disclose details of every offence of this nature reported to us. Victims are traumatised by their experience and find that simply reporting the matter to us is in itself a major ordeal; they frequently do not want any publicity o ther than is strictly necessary to assist with the case. Sympathetic treatment of these women is of paramount importance to West Midlands Police.

The help of members of the public and the media is invaluable in detecting and preventing crime. The tremendous success that we have had in combating this type of crime is testimony to that support. In 1996/97 there were 136 undetected rapes in this for ce area, last year that figure had reduced to 65.

The decision to release details publicly about a crime is one of a number of decisions that an investigating officer must take, balancing the need to inform and protect a public who may be at risk, against ensuring that a successful prosecution is not j eopardised by publicly reported information. Only today there is an appeal against conviction for murder based upon media coverage given to a local case.

It is unfortunate that your report focuses upon just one case where the investigating officer made a judgment about media coverage and not upon the enormous success we are having in tackling this particularly nasty and traumatic type of offence.

PAUL DIEHL

Chief Inspector,

Press & Public Relations

Department,

West Midlands Police.

Desperate dangling

of the PR carrot

Sir, - Tony Blair and Jack Straw say they are not convinced about PR (proportional representation). Yet they have set up the Jenkins Commission whose brief is to look at PR without considering the present 'first past the post system'.

Jenkins is a liberal whose party policy is in favour of PR, so I think it is safe to assume the outcome.

In addition, they have allowed PR in Scotland, Wales and Europe with the result that the constituency link is broken with power vested centrally so they control the order of candidates on the list.

I suspect Labour are dangling the PR carrot to the Liberals and other small parties as a way of holding together a coalition of the left to stop the Conservatives. They must be desperate.

LEN KIRBY

Hall Green,

Birmingham.

Voting without

fear of waste

Sir, - Mrs Moor (Post, Oct 3) says that she opposes PR because many people will not understand the new scheme. I am sure that actually there will be sufficient information so that people will be able to understand it.

Furthermore a proper system of PR will mean that we will be able to vote for the party of our choice without fear that it will be a wasted vote.

At present, most people's votes are wasted votes, because they live in "safe seats" where everyone knows who is going to win.

Millions more live in constituencies where the only two candidates with any chance of winning are Labour and Conservative.

Supporters of the Liberal Democrats or other parties, therefore, feel that they have to vote Labour to keep the Conservatives out, or vice-versa, depending on which of the two parties' policies they most dislike.

Under a proper PR system, everyone's vote will count, we will get a House of Commons that truly represents how people vote, and Governments will not get a majority of the seats, without getting a majority of our votes. We will then truly live in a repre sentative democracy.

TONY SMITHSON

Moseley,

Birmingham.

Suggestions for

your tail pipe

Sir, - So Roger Dickens thinks there is no alternative to the highly destructive and damaging Birmingham Northern Relief Road (Post, Oct 3). …

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