UK

Police Force Refuses To Name Ex-Officer Charged With £113,000 Theft

01/05/2013 19:06 BST | Updated 01/05/2013 22:22 BST

A police force has refused to name an ex-officer charged with stealing £113,000 from its headquarters.

Warwickshire Police claimed a "change in policy" meant it would not release the name of somebody charged with an offence.

Its Deputy Chief Constable later said the rule change was to "align with national policy post Leveson" - in a reference to the recent report on press regulation.

Neil Brunton said it had nothing to do with the case of the ex-officer.

It is normal practice to identify an individual at the point at which they are formally charged with an offence.

In a statement posted on its website, the force said: "A 54 year old man from the Stratford area has been charged with the theft of £113,000 from the former Warwickshire Police headquarters at Leek Wootton.

"The man, a retired police officer, will appear before magistrates in Leamington on May 22."

Warwickshire Police added that "due to a change in policy we no longer release the name of an individual on charge."

It is not clear when the new policy came into force - on March 22 the force published the name of a man who had been charged with trying to sell a stolen laptop.

It later suggested the rule change had been brought in following new guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

But an Acpo spokeswoman told The Huffington Post UK that while it had recently provided new guidelines on naming people when they are arrested, nothing new has been issued in relation to suspects charged.

She confirmed it is usual practice for people to be named when they are formally charged with an offence.

The move was criticised by the Index on Censorship, which told the Daily Telegraph: "That the police should withhold the name of a former officer who has not only been arrested but charged is worrying.

"Anonymity may be appropriate in certain cases, but a 'policy' of secrecy reverses the principle of open justice that we have in the UK."