Courts are increasingly keeping the identities of alleged sexual offenders secret, even as the overall numbers of those granted name suppression declines.
Figures from the Ministry of Justice released under the Official Information Act show it has become harder for criminals to keep their names secret, with the number of permanent name suppression orders granted falling from 882 in 2009 to 329 in 2014.
Of the 329 people granted permanent name suppression in 2014, 185 were convicted of the offence they were charged with.
Suppression provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 came into force in March 2012 – and the number of suppression orders has dropped since then.
A drop from 882 to 329 is large and significant. This is a good thing.
The only category in which the number of suppression orders rose was in the offence group of sexual assault and related offences.
In 2009, 78 people were granted permanent name suppression in the case of a sex crime, with 45 of those convicted.
But last year, 109 people were granted permanent suppression, 71 of whom were convicted.
That may be due to protecting the identity of the victims.
However better to suppress the details of the relationship between the criminal and the victims, than the name of the criminal.