Tories slammed over attack on Derbyshire police during party conference
CONSERVATIVES were slammed last night for trying to make political capital during their party conference by criticising Derbyshire police.
Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve claimed the Derbyshire force had refused to release pictures of two fugitive murderers because it could have impinged on their human rights.
Speech: Shadow minister Dominic Grieve
Mr Grieve, addressing hundreds of delegates at the Tory conference in Manchester, said: "How many times have we seen police or probation officers say they can't disclose the identity of a criminal because of his privacy under the Human Rights Act – police in Derbyshire refused to disclose photos of fugitive murderers.
"That's complete nonsense and we'll end it straight away."
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But political opponents seized on the fact the incident he was referring to happened over three years ago, and that police at the time strenuously denied any human rights link.
Convicted murderers Jason Croft and Michael Nixon walked out of Sudbury jail in 2006. Police initially did not release their photographs because they believed both men were not in Derbyshire, and there was no policing purpose to showing their faces. They relented, and adopted a policy of releasing photographs of all Sudbury absconders.
Reacting to Mr Grieve's comments, Justice Secretary Jack Straw said: "Like so many Conservative announcements this week, Dominic Grieve's speech falls apart under scrutiny. He has attacked Derbyshire Police for refusing to publish photos of criminals, only to be told this was not the case at all.
"The Conservatives need to get their facts straight. Naming and shaming of offenders already happens."
An official statement released by the Derbyshire force said: "The publicity surrounding the release of the photographs of the absconders from Sudbury prison was based on misreporting.
"The Derbyshire Constabulary has never refused to release photographs on the grounds of the human rights of the offenders."
The Tory party responded saying they had not meant to criticise Derbyshire Police, but pointed out that the force had at least "considered" the Human Rights Act in their original decision.
Speaking after his speech Mr Grieve said: "Through no fault of their own the police have been put in a very difficult position because of the uncertainty caused by the Human Rights Act and incoherent Government policy."
Derby South MP Margaret Beckett said: "We all know the police have a very difficult job to do and the last thing they need is to have their lives made more difficult and complex by politicians that don't get their facts right."