UK

West Midlands Police Refuse To Name Fugitives Accused Of Rape And Murder, Citing Their Right To Privacy

12/08/2015 12:31 BST | Updated 12/08/2015 12:59 BST

A police force has refused to name people accused of rape and murder, who have been on the run for years, because doing so would breach their privacy.

West Midlands Police refused to give local paper The Birmingham Mail details of the 10 alleged criminals, beyond confirming the crime they were accused of and when it took place.

It cited Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act which provides an exemption for personal information.

The force said: "Section 40(2) allows for personal data to be withheld where release would breach the third party’s data protection rights.

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“It would be unfair to release this information where any person could be identified from the data and in this case the right to privacy outweighs any public interest in release.”

The paper asked the force to name all wanted suspects it had been seeking for more than 10 years.

Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood told the Birmingham Mail: “It is absolutely bizarre and I just don’t know where this has come from.

“It is more likely an excuse to not provide information that really should be provided.”

Retired West Midlands officer Ray Egan told the Daily Mail: "These criminals could still be committing crimes like murder and rape. I don’t know how they think they will catch them if no-one knows who they are."

The force later did name one of the suspects - 33-year-old Luke Anderson, who is wanted in connection with an attempted murder.

In a statement, it said it "consistently and proactively" released images of suspects.

It added: "The public are our eyes and ears and sharing people as wanted is an extremely successful way of tracking down those who are alleged to have committed a crime.

"The decision to issue someone as wanted is one for the Senior Investigating Officer of an investigation. Each case is different and may merit a different approach.

"Sometimes it is not in the interest of the inquiry to release details of a wanted person as it may hamper on-going enquiries, for example, investigations abroad."