Main content

Guilt and Innocence

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Matthew Taylor, Anne McElvoy, Claire Fox and Melanie Philips.

Hampshire Police are giving leaflets to suspected sexual predators, explaining the law to them and asking for their behaviour to stop. The "C5 notices" are used when there is not enough evidence to support a prosecution. Supporters of the scheme say it’s another way to prevent sexual crime and protect children. Critics say there’s no evidence it changes anyone’s behaviour and it risks stigmatising the innocent. Where does this leave the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? Is this non-negotiable or can there be a place for pre-emptive justice? The question is more pressing in the age of social media. While public naming and shaming can give victims the confidence to come forward and talk to the police, it can also risk creating the assumption of lifelong guilt for those who are accused but have never been convicted. Some say the new social dynamics have changed our culture and behaviour for the better; others make the historic comparison to witch hunts and pillories. This applies to all kinds of behaviour, not just the criminal. When an individual’s every past teenage misdemeanour is a matter of public record, from an ill-advised selfie to a casually racist tweet, how should they be treated in adult life? Have we lost the capacity to forgive? If justice is a combination of punishment and rehabilitation, how should we strike that balance? Witnesses are: Jamie Bartlett, Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos; Dr Marian Duggan, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent; Michael Lane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire; and Corey Stoughton, Acting Director of Liberty.

Producer: Dan Tierney

Available now

43 minutes

Broadcasts

The Evidence Toolkit

The Evidence Toolkit

Check out the claims made in news stories with this interactive tool.

Podcast