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Editor’s comment: We shouldn’t have to beg for mugshots

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:17 19 October 2017

Robert Wootton's photograph has not been released by police.

Robert Wootton's photograph has not been released by police.

Archant

The battle we faced to obtain a police photo of convicted paedophile Robert Wootton is outrageous.

So too is the fact a police officer tried to convince the family of the victim that they shouldn’t speak to the press – even though they were the ones who contacted us in the first place.

When Scotland Yard is happy to release mugshots of shoplifters who realistically pose no risk to anyone, for it to withhold a photo of a sex offender – who may well have other victims who could end up coming forward after seeing him in the paper – is totally inappropriate.

The police should be working with the press, not against us, in upholding the principle of open justice, and in – surely – respecting the wishes of victims and their families, not to mention trying to track down anyone else this man preyed on.

It is a sad truth that sex offenders rarely stop at a single victim. The #metoo movement on social media, which has this week seen thousands of women identify themselves as the victims of sex offences in response to allegations against Harvey Weinstein, has reminded us of the sheer, disgusting scale of unreported rapes and sex attacks.

We should do everything we can to hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account.

That doesn’t just mean turning the key and forgetting about them: it means finding out who else they preyed on and letting those people know justice matters for them, too.

Newspapers have been their own worst enemy, and Leveson has sown a legitimate distrust of the media in the minds of many – including the police, some of whose colleagues compromised their own integrity by selling information.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater: trying to shut down stories like this one is not sticking it to anyone but the victims.

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