Defendant Anonymity

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 8th July 2010.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) (Prisons and Probation) 1:00 pm, 8th July 2010

I think I have already answered that question-[Hon. Members: "No, you haven't!"] I am quite happy to accept that I might not have answered it to the satisfaction of the right hon. Lady and other Opposition Members.

Our aim is to set out our detailed position at an early date. We envisage making a further announcement in the autumn, as soon as possible after the summer recess. In the meantime, we will continue to investigate those areas that still require further thought. I have already discussed the read-across to our commitment regarding teachers, and the scope of the provisions will clearly form a central element of that further work. Over the same period, we also intend to investigate the extent to which research might be required to fill in any gaps. The one area I have highlighted is whether anonymity might frustrate investigations. On the face of it, that is the most that is required, but we will reflect carefully. We will also use the intervening period between now and the autumn to engage the media, which has a key interest in the subject. I know the media would like to be consulted at the earliest available opportunity, and we will take steps to ensure that this happens. In these days of multiple media, we recognise the wisdom of discussing our proposals with broadcasters, as well as with the more traditional paper-based news industries, and we will do that.

We will also have discussions with other relevant organisations. At this time, we have not decided exactly who is relevant for this purpose, but I am aware that the Association of Chief Police Officers has been mentioned a number a times in connection with this subject, and we will certainly take note of its views in developing our scheme further. We will speak to specialist voluntary sector organisations, the education sector and the children's work force with a view to gaining a better idea of the detailed impact on suspects and victims, and we will work up practical options for implementation.

We see no case, however, for a formal consultation-[Hon. Members: "What?"]. The detailed arguments in this area are already well known, and we are not convinced that a formal consultation exercise would add value. It is capable of obscuring the real issues, and would certainly delay matters considerably. That cannot be in anybody's interests.

Let me conclude by saying that it is a pleasure to be able to report real progress on this subject. As I have said, we look forward to being to announce further developments after the summer recess.

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