The Police Chiefs' Blog
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Constables' Council April 2018
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Dee Collins - Closing the gender pay gap
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Officers' Day - March 2018
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Disclosure - February 2018
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Anthony Bangham - Road enforcement must be proportionate
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Nick Ephgrave - changing the culture on disclosure
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2018
Guest Blog: Programme Director Jo Ashworth on Transforming Forensics
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Shaun Sawyer on Modern Slavery
Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Police funding: do we have the resources we need?
Cmdr Matt Twist: Use of force data is a great step forward for for transparency
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2017
Blog: CC Sara Thornton - We need to talk about wellbeing in policing
CC Dave Thompson blog: Policing funding - what do we need to tackle the threats
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2017
ACC Mark Roberts blog: We all have the same aim - a safe and enjoyable World Cup
NPCC Questions and Answers on Conducted Energy Devices (aka Taser)
CC Simon Cole Blog: Uniform that's uniform! February 2017
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2017
CC Stephen Kavanagh Blog: Our world has gone digital January 2017
DCC Louisa Rolfe Blog: Coercive control can affect anyone. December 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2016
DAC Helen Ball Blog: Reflections on 'Look Outs'. October 2016
Sara Thornton Blog: It's time for a sharing economy in policing. October 2016
CC Simon Bailey: We have to intervene earlier to stop child abuse. August 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2016
Mark Rowley blog: Communities defeat terrorism - 3639 times a day, 1 August 2016
CC Sara Thornton blog - Unity & respect needed, not hate crime. June 2016
Cmdr Simon Bray Blog: Legal highs? Not as legal as you thought – 26 May 2016
CC Jane Sawyers Blog: International Day Against Homophobia - 17 May 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2016
CC Simon Cole Blog: Prevent - 21 April 2016
Police Chiefs Blogs: International Women's Day - 8 March 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2016
Sara Thornton Blog: Christmas greeting - Dec 2015
Sara Thornton Blog: Police budgets, reform & specialist capabilities - Dec 2015
Steve Kavanagh Blog: Policing the digital age - December 02 2015
Adrian Leppard: Fraud and Cyber-crime: What's being done? October 15 2015
Sexting, young people and the police: Working towards a common-sense solution
Sara Thornton Blog: Investigating burglary will always be a priority - Aug 2015
Police Chiefs' Blog: Sara Thornton, Chief Constables Council July 2015
A future for local policing - Blog by CC Simon Cole, NPCC Lead on Local Policing
Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog, 8 July 2015
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh: We have to think digital, 11 June 2015
CC Jane Sawyers: International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), 15 May 2015
Martin Hewitt: Building on the success of the Not Guilty campaign, 11 May 2015
Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog, 3 March 2015
Shaun Sawyer: Smashing the bonds of modern slavery remains a policing priority
Pat Geenty: Take care of yourself and your property this Christmas, 12 Dec 2014
Commander Chris Greany: My first eight weeks
Simon Cole: Police seek more reports of disability hate crime
Commander Chris Greany - New Head of NPoCC, 23 September 2014
Police And Communities Working Together To End FGM, 3rd July 2014
Gareth Pritchard - Changes to dangerous dogs legislation - 16 May 2014
Francis Habgood - Building trust in crime recording, 14 April 2014
Autism Society - Autism awareness can improve police practice, 2 April 2014
ACPO President on our FOI Disclosure Log publication, 21 February 2014
The Future of ACPO - A blog by our President, Sir Hugh Orde, 17 Jan 2014
Simon Bray - Understanding the impact of new psychoactive substances,17 Jan 2014
Guest Blog, Paul Burstow MP - Policing and mental health,12 December 2013
Martin Hewitt - Rape discussion provokes strong feelings, 2 December 2013
Suzette Davenport - Drink and drug drivers, 2 December 2013
Mick Creedon - Fighting serious organised crime, 18 November 2013
Andy Marsh - Firearms licence-holders are no cash cows, 1 November 2013
Simon Chesterman – Police use of Taser and training, 12 July 2013
Julian Blazeby - Police use of automatic number plate recognition, 18 June 2013
Pat Geenty - Improving the police response to missing people, 24 May 2013
Adrian Lee - Police commitment to tackling alcohol harm, 15 May 2013
Andy Trotter - Secret Justice, 30 April 2013
Garry Shewan - Stalking. Know the law, use the law, 18 April, 2013
International Women's Day - Women in Policing, 8 March 2013
A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 22 February 2013
A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 January 2013
Martin Hewitt - Adult Sex Offences, 17 December 2012
David Whatton - Violence against women and girls, 4 December 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 15 November 2012
Simon Cole- Policing and Dementia, 8 November 2012
Dave Thompson - Police work to tackle gun crime on our streets, 30 October 2012
Sara Thornton - Authorised Professional Practice, 22 October 2012
Alex Marshall - Drones, 9 October 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 September 2012
Andy Marsh - changes to firearms licensing, 18 September 2012
Simon Cole - disability hate crime, 10 September 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 14 August 2012
Ian Learmonth - The riots one year on, 7 Aug 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 20 July 2012
Alex Marshall - PCCs, 10 July 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 26 June 2012
Nigel Brook - Budget cuts, 22 June 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 10 May 2012
Simon Cole - Local policing and partnerships, 4 May 2012
Nigel Brook - Police Finance and Resources, 12 April 2012
Peter Fahy - Winsor Part Two, 30 March 2012
Gareth Pritchard - Policing dangerous dogs, 27 March 2012
David Whatton - Investigating rape, 8 March 2012
Dave Thompson - Renewed focus upon gangs is welcomed by the police, 8 Feb 2012
Simon Byrne outlines the benefits of ANPR technology, 7 February 2012
Simon Cole - Responding to mental ill-health and disability, 17 January 2012
Ian Dyson - The new police 101 non emergency number, 11 January 2012
Andy Adams - Custody Matters, 28 November 2011
Rob Beckley - 'Big Society' and volunteering, 17 November 2011
Simon Byrne - Policing prostitution and sexual exploitation, 2 November 2011
Tim Hollis: Policing Drugs in Austerity - Adjusting to the challenge,12 October 2011
Olivia Pinkney: Policing the exploitation of labour, 26 September 2011
Tim Hollis: Reflections on Disorder, 12 September 2011
Sir Hugh Orde: Tension between politicians and police is healthy
Sara Thornton: Providing the best leaders, 29 July 2011
Phil Gormley: Recovery of vehicles - the truth, 28 June 2011
John Feavyour: Police complaints and improving public service, 23 June 2011
Sir Norman Bettison: Prevent Review, 7 June 2011
Janet Williams: Policing cyberspace, 9 May 2011
Mark Rowley: Surrey Police, bureaucracy and the frontline, 15 April 2011
Chris Sims: Frontline Policing, 11 April 2011
Graeme Gerrard: CCTV surveillance, 3 March 2011
Garry Shewan: Stalking and harassment, 10 February 2011
Sir Hugh Orde: A new direction, 26 January 2011
Page header

Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Disclosure - February 2018

Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton - we must investigate and disclose all reasonable lines of inquiry while guarding against intrusion: Sara5 2016-2

The acquittal of a 17 year-old for rape and the collapsed trial of Christopher Penniall revealed further failures of disclosure, and they reinforce how critical it is we address the problem, particularly when police recorded crime shows a rise of 23 per cent in sexual offences and the Crime Survey of England and Wales tells us one in five women has been sexually assaulted.

We swear an oath when we become a police officer - to always act with fairness and impartiality. That principle must be at the heart of our investigations, and is absolutely connected to the Attorney General’s guidance that sets out police officers’ duty to pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry – those that lead towards the suspect and those that lead away.

In recent months we have been working with Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to address the flaws in recent cases, and we now have a good joint plan that we’re all behind. It’s become clear that the key is identifying the reasonable lines of inquiry early with the CPS, and if it at all possible with the defence, which then guides what needs to be disclosed. This addresses the cultural problem, set out by our disclosure lead Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, where officers see disclosure as an administrative task at the end of the process rather than being integral from the beginning.

Investigation and appropriate disclosure is as old as policing but we are challenged by sheer volume of data we all hold in 2018, and therefore the many, many more potential lines of inquiry. So, we must cooperate, acting with fairness and impartiality, and this might mean practical conversations with complainants and suspects at the start of the process to ask them “is there anything in your phone that’s relevant to the case?”

In the desire to solve this issue, we must guard against going beyond reasonable lines of inquiry. We cannot allow people to be put off reporting to us because they fear intrusion into their lives and private information that’s not relevant to the crime being shared in court –the digital equivalent of the tired trope of women in short skirts “asking for it." This is why the idea of handing all the unused material to the defence won’t work – it would go beyond what is reasonable and proportionate.

Getting this right means we are asking investigators to do more at a time when we have a shortage of detectives and many other complex demands. We must be honest that this may slow investigations in the short term and forces will have to consider moving resources - as the Metropolitan Commissioner Cressida Dick said last week.

Longer term, if technology is the challenge, it’s also got to be part of the solution. So with the CPS we have set up a group to explore the clever tech that could help us – whether it’s machine learning or artificial intelligence.

New technology, adequate numbers of investigators, effective joint working with prosecutors and the right mind-set all need to be part of our response to recent failed cases. The integrity of the criminal justice system depends upon us making improvements.

National Police Chief’s Council Chair Sara Thornton