chapter
jigsaw identification
Pages 17

The jigsaw effect occurs when two or more news reports added together inadvertently point to the identityof someonewhosenamehas not been given in any of the reports. This effect that no one wants, though rare, is most liable to occur with regard to victims of sexual crime, especially abuse within the family and rape. This is what happens. Radio, television and newspapers generally respect the need for anonymity of the victim. They accept that publicity is likely to add to the ordeal of the assault. The law reinforces this attitude by banning publication of a victim’s name and any other identifying personal facts in nearly all cases from the time the offence is committed. Each news organisation decides separately what other facts about the victim and the case it will publish, each careful not to give away too much. One report, in a local newspaper for instance, may say of a rape that the victim was blonde and 23 years old. Another report on the same case, perhaps on local radio, says the victim liveswith herparents in a named district of the town, and yet another report, possibly on television, in another newspaper or on another radio station, says she was attacked while getting into her green sports car. Facts of this kind may be given all on the same day or they may emerge over a number of days. Separately, they do not betray the identity of the victim. But together they say enough for people of the locality to work out who she is.