Anonymity for complainers in sexual offence cases
A right to anonymity means that it is against the law to publish information that identifies the victim.
A right to anonymity helps protect victims’ privacy.
Privacy mean keeping something private – no-one else knows about it.
Information that identifies the victim includes:
- their name or where they live
- where they work
- photographs of them
This means that it will be against the law to include this information in reports about the case, including reports:
- in newspapers
- on TV, radio and on websites
- on social media
There was agreement that a right to anonymity for victims in sexual offence cases was a good change.
Respondents said that:
- the right to anonymity should start when an allegation of sexual offence is made
- it should apply to a wide range of offences, and apply to children and young people
- it is important to make sure that a person understands any decision they take to end anonymity
- anonymity should always be a person’s choice and should never be forced
There was some disagreement about the court being able to end anonymity in individual cases.
Some respondents said decisions about when it should end should be made on a case-by-case basis.
Respondents could not decide about suitable penalties for people who breach anonymity.
There was agreement that penalties would be a good thing.
Some respondents said penalties should be serious enough to help stop people breaching anonymity but also must be fair.
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