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Defendants forced to declare nationality or face jail

By Paul Hooper

Suspects in criminal cases could find themselves behind bars - for not revealing their nationality.

New rules introduced in courtrooms this week mean all defendants have to reveal not only their name, date of birth but also their nationality.

And a failure to comply could land defendants a six-month stretch inside.

Defendants who don't declare their nationality could be jailed. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library
Defendants who don't declare their nationality could be jailed. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library

Notices have been pinned to doors in Canterbury Crown Court, and defendants have been asked to comply.

It reads: “There has always been an obligation on the court to confirm certain information about a defendant’s identity, for example: name, address, date of birth etc.

“A change in the law..now requires that at a first hearing the court must also confirm a defendant’s nationality, including, where appropriate, dual nationality.”

The notice, printed by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, then promises that the answers will have “absolutely no bearing upon the way in which your case is dealt with.”

The requirement, which carries either jail or a fine for non-compliance, is only applicable to defendants in criminal cases.

Magistrates have also been sent details of the new regulation introduced under section 162 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

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