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UK's Tories would let police name criminals

BRITAIN'S opposition Conservative party plans to allow police to name criminals if it comes to power, saying the Labor government had kept the public in the dark about dangerous offenders living in their area.

The Conservatives, frontrunners to win next year's general election, attacked the government's record on law and order saying that the privacy of convicted criminals and dangerous fugitives had been given priority over public protection.

"A Conservative government will free the police, probation and prison services to name offenders where necessary in order to protect the public and prevent crime," Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said in a statement yesterday.

The Conservatives, in the middle of their annual party conference where they have so far focused on cutting public spending, said they would repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights to rebalance laws in favor of protecting the public.

Justice Minister Jack Straw defended the Human Rights Act, saying the names and addresses of offenders were already on the public record and police regularly named wanted criminals. He said he aimed to put information about offenders on neighborhood policing websites this autumn.

"Nothing in the Human Rights Act prevents publishing the details of an offender if he or she presents a danger to the public," he said.

"In fact, the Act explicitly allows public authorities to interfere with an individual's right to privacy in the interests of public safety or for the prevention or detection of crime."

Straw said scrapping the Human Rights Act would not remove Britain's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, and replacing it with a Bill of Rights would restrict the flexibility of British courts.


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