Investigating crime; and ensuring the integrity of the criminal process Page 91 as a counterweight to the intimidating atmosphere specifically devised to sap his will and make him confide in his interrogators’. 268 ■ In Gäfgen v Germany, police had obtained evidence from the applicant by methods of interrogation which had amounted to ill-treatment within the meaning of Article 3. The ill-treatment had been deemed necessary by the police in order to attempt to save the life of a child who, unknown to the police, had already been murdered by the applicant. The applicant had thereafter confessed to the police, and had taken officers to the spot where he had hidden the victim’s body. Subsequently, the applicant had repeated his confession to a prosecutor. Before the Strasbourg Court, he sought to argue that the impugned real evidence had been decisive in (rather than merely accessory to) securing his conviction as the self-incriminating evidence obtained as a result of his extracted confession had been wholly necessary for the conviction for murder. The Court disagreed. Two matters called for scrutiny: first, consideration of the extent to which the applicant had enjoyed an opportunity to challenge the authenticity and the use of the evidence was necessary; and secondly, the Court required to assess the quality of the evidence and the circumstances in which the evidence was obtained to evaluate its reliability or accuracy, for ‘while no problem of fairness necessarily arises where the evidence obtained was unsupported by other material, it may be noted that where the evidence is very strong and there is no risk of its being unreliable, the need for supporting evidence is correspondingly weaker’. In this instance, the Grand Chamber held that, in light of the second confession, the failure of the domestic courts to exclude the evidence obtained following the ill-treatment had not had a bearing on the overall fairness of the trial. 269 The presumption of innocence: Article 6(2), European Convention on Human Rights A final issue under Article 6 of relevance for police officers arises under Article 6(2). This provides that ‘everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law’, but the obligation to respect the presumption of innocence not only applies to judges but also to other public officials in general. In particular, statements to the media by police officers must not undermine the presumption of innocence nor render a trial unfair. 268 Magee v the United Kingdom, judgment of 6 June 2000 at paragraphs 38-46. 269 Gäfgen v Germany, judgment of 1 June 2010 at paragraphs 162-188.
The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 92 ■ In Allenet de Ribemont v France, two senior police officers during a press conference had referred to the applicant who had just been arrested as one of the instigators of a murder. While acknowledging that Article 6(2) cannot prevent the public being informed of the progress of criminal investigations, the Court confirmed that it does require the relevant authorities to act ‘with all the discretion and circumspection necessary if the presumption of innocence is to be respected’. The statement in this case had been a clear declaration that the applicant was guilty. This had both encouraged public belief in the applicant’s guilt and also tainted the objective assessment of the relevant facts, and thus resulted in a finding of violation of paragraph (2). 270 Conclusion The discussion above has shown the importance of awareness of certain aspects of human rights protection in the discharge of policing responsibilities in relation to the investigation of crime. Much of this is driven by concerns not to prejudice any subsequent criminal prosecution: fairness to an accused starts from the moment when an individual is made aware that he faces allegations of the commission of a criminal offence and when his situation thereby is ‘substantially affected’. But other considerations also apply, most noticeably when search or surveillance activities interfere with respect for private life, home and correspondence. In discharging such aspects of policing, police officers require sensitivity to the rights of individuals to ensure that their work is not irredeemably prejudiced. 270 Allenet de Ribemont v France, judgment of 10 February 1995 at paragraph 38.