Warning against shaming theft suspects on social media
Local businesses reportedly involved in the practice of naming and shaming suspected thieves on social media are being warned not to do so. In fact, if Minister of Industry, Commerce and Trade Donville Inniss had his way, the photographs and names of any suspect would not be released until that individual was found guilty.
Inniss was speaking to Barbados Today against the background of a report carried by this newspaper that some companies were reportedly losing thousands of dollars to theft every year and were taking crime prevention into their own hands by turning to social media to name alleged shoplifters and thieves.
However, the senior Government minister said while he was not aware of any particular case, supermarkets should not go down that route.
“If a supermarket posts [a picture of] someone who they feel has been shoplifting and puts it out there in the public domain, they better appreciate that a man is innocent until proven guilty and a supermarket or any place of business is not a law court. If you hold a man and name him and shame him and then he goes to court and is found innocent, they’d better be prepared to face the consequences for their actions.
“My advice to any business place in such situations is to let the police and the courts do what they have to do. Don’t take the law unto yourself. If you want to hold somebody until the police get there that is one thing but to go and put accusations out there in the public domain is wrong,” added Inniss.
“I have seen many individuals who have been found not guilty of things but the rest of society treats them as though they are the biggest criminals around. We need to revisit that situation really; this thing of blasting the photographs of accused persons and all the names and addresses, something just seems wrong about it. It doesn’t seem to me that you are getting a fair trial in the public domain,” explained Inniss.