– Libby Purves has written in the Times about the recent extremely well publicised police raid on Cliff Richard’s house. The article is behind a paywall, but here are some choice lines:
Lost in an unfamiliar landscape? Ask a policeman. What I want, officer, is statistics on the usefulness of dawn raids, especially where the allegation involves not weapons, drugs, account books or contraband but a sexual misdeed 30 years ago. Do you generally find a diary from 1985 saying “Molested X today”? Or is there always some extreme porn left around to confirm dodginess? Does this apply even if it is only one of the suspect’s homes you raid? Suppose all his wicked stuff was in Barbados all the time?
More pressingly, officer, is justice served by confirming a raid to the TV news in time for them to hire a helicopter? Then complaining that this causes them to turn up? How do you square it with the College of Policing guideline that without compelling reason suspects shouldn’t be identified? Is the fact that chummy will make headlines a compelling reason?
And there are flaws in the theory that famous names must be named: when some ordinary joe is accused there is no publicity, yet convictions are achieved.
Another problem is the risk of attracting hysterics, liars, and fantasists keen to surf on the excitement and waste police time.