26 February 2016
SUSSEX Police have refused to name the individual they believe is responsible for intentionally infecting others with HIV – but insist they are doing everything they can to keep the public safe.
Sussex Police said they want to reassure people across the county that residents’ safety is their “priority” following allegations of a man putting his sexual partners intentionally at risk of HIV in Brighton.
They said they are working with partners in local sexual health services and Public Health England so that disclosures to potential victims are done in a sensitive way.
Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, Brighton and Hove divisional commander, said: “We are being challenged by The Argus to name the individual as they believe it is in the public interest.
“I want to reassure the public that we are taking this investigation incredibly seriously. We are publicising absolutely everything we and our partners believe is in the public interest and are committed to supporting victims and potential victims.”
Dr Tom Scanlon, Director of Public Health, Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I would strongly encourage anyone who thinks they may have had sexual contact with a man as described in the alert on our website to contact sexual health services for advice and support www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/hiv-alert
“There are issues of patient confidentiality, clinical sensitivity, as well as legal issues which are of great importance in terms of how we deal with this matter. I would urge colleagues in the media to bear this in mind when reporting this matter.”
Chief Supt Kemp said: “We have been tracing those who may have been affected in a number of ways, including looking at men the suspect has contacted online. Releasing the details to the media was an additional way to reach out to the wider community who may have been affected or have information to help us.
“The health and wellbeing of potential victims is the primary focus and releasing the suspect’s name is not in the public interest because in this case:
“It could lull some people, who have potentially been infected, into a false sense of security because of the risk of secondary infection.
“We believe the suspect may have used a variety of usernames when contacting people online so putting out his name may mean some people fail to identify the man who is allegedly been committing these offences.
“He has not been charged by us.
“When someone is accused of a crime we will interview them to gather evidence. It is then very common for them to be released on bail while investigations continue. It’s important we have the full facts and evidence to support any potential prosecution. We will name someone once they are charged by the Crown Prosecution Service.
“The media knows this which is why we are very disappointed that The Argus decided to name an individual in this case.
By doing this they have put our investigation at risk and have jeopardised the potential prosecution, where identity is a key issue. This is because in this case it is important that potential victims identify the suspect to the police without being influenced by what they have read in the media.
“We have three potential victims who are being supported by agencies while we continue to investigate.
“There is always a balance between protecting those who could have been at risk and bringing the person who has been committing an offence to justice – we always put the public first.”
Watch Chief Supt Nev Kemp talking about the HIV investigation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq03s8XoqBA