Guilty until proven innocent?

False allegations can ruin lives. An allegation that is completely false when the alleged incident or event did not occur can have a serious impact on a person’s professional and personal life. Accusations that are determined to be false based on corroborating evidence are divided into these categories:

  • An allegation that describes events that did occur but were perpetrated by someone other than the accused and the accused is, in fact, innocent.
  • An allegation that is completely false in that the alleged event never happened at all.
  • An allegation that can be partially true and false in that it contains mixed descriptions of events that did and did not occur.

There could be intentional fabrication by the accuser or unintentional due to mental illness, accidental or deliberate suggestive questioning or faulty interviewing techniques. Whatever the reason, there can be nothing more devastating than being accused of something you didn’t do. There is even a support group set up to help and offer advice to people in this very situation. The FASO (False Allegations Support Organisation) aims to emotional support and practical advice to those who have suffered a false allegation of wrongdoing.

Thanks to the increasing use of Body Worn Cameras, members of our frontline services can record what goes on when they are dealing with a situation. This has led to a decrease in public complaints against public service workers and has had the benefit of ridding the system of those who would attempt to ruin careers with false accusations of assault or being discriminated against, possibly for the media attention and financial gain. For more information, visit http://www.pinnacleresponse.com/body-cameras-and-the-law/.

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False allegations are insidious in that emotional responses to such accusations such as fear, anger and denial can all look like guilt as well. People may lie about events for a number of reasons: to inflict harm on the accused and their family, revenge for some perceived slight or failure, to get out of trouble themselves, for monetary gain or to gain the upper hand in a dispute. Whatever the reasons, the power to ruin lives and careers needs to be kept in check. Body worn cameras can help to provide protection when dealing with members of the public in often volatile circumstances.

Campaigning group FACT (Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers) have conferences where speakers provide their experiences, how allegations have affected their families and provide mutual support. Some teachers speak of the lost faith in the presumption of innocence and a system that can keep an accused’s life on hold for two years while investigations take place. It has been argued that the compensation culture is too powerful and largely to blame for false allegations. FACT campaign for accused people to be treated justly and fairly. It is possible to prosecute someone who has accused you of something you didn’t do. It is covered under the common law offence of perverting the course of justice.