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Frequently asked questions on social media

Our followers on social media often ask questions about our public appeals and media coverage. Here are some of the questions we regularly get - and the answers.

Why have you released CCTV that’s so blurry, or doesn’t clearly show the suspect’s face?

We will, of course, always use the highest quality CCTV, or clearest image available to us, in our appeals. However, the quality of CCTV systems does vary, and unfortunately a clear image or video isn’t always captured.

Nevertheless, our experience shows publishing these images is worthwhile. Sometimes it just takes one person to recognise a distinctive piece of clothing, hat or haircut to give us that vital breakthrough and help us catch the culprits.

Why has is it taken you so long to publish details of an incident?

Public appeals are just one of a number of lines of enquiry we will undertake to help us bring justice for victims of crime.

For operational reasons, it may be appropriate to carry out certain enquiries before details of an incident are published. In addition, we must always consider the victim’s wishes when releasing information relevant to them.

Why do you publish appeals about some crimes and not others?

Not every investigation we carry out needs one. An appeal is just one of many lines of enquiry. They are considered on a case-by-case basis, and used when the officer investigating an incident believes they could help generate new information.

Why haven’t you named someone who has been arrested?

Police will not name those arrested, or suspected of a crime, (and not yet charged) save in exceptional circumstances where there is a legitimate policing purpose to do so. A legitimate policing purpose may include circumstances such as a threat to life, the prevention or detection of crime, or where police have made a public warning about a wanted individual. In certain circumstances, this may include people who have failed to answer bail.

We can – and do – proactively release information about court outcomes, such as the names of those convicted of offences, as a way of improving public confidence in the criminal justice system.

For more information, please refer to the Media relations authorised professional practice from the College of Policing.

Why did a criminal receive that sentence in court?

A sentence is the punishment a judge or magistrate decides should be given to someone who has been convicted of a crime.

The police investigate crime and prepare evidence. We do not have any powers to sentence offenders when they appear in court.

Judges and magistrates decide on the appropriate type and length of sentence. They must work within the laws set by parliament, and follow sentencing guidelines where they exist. They are independent of parliament, the government and the police.

The Sentencing Council has more information about how offenders are sentenced.