“That was some of the valuable evidence,” he said. “If we have to ask for these things, not knowing how the process works, they we are at a disadvantage and it’s not a fair trial.
“The consent form is a good step, as long as it’s carried out in the right way, as long as it’s not trawling through unnecessary information.”
The consent forms: how they work
Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill said digital devices will only be looked at when they form a “reasonable line of inquiry” and only “relevant” material will go before a court if it meets “hard and fast” rules.
“If there’s material on a device, let’s say a mobile phone, which forms a reasonable line of inquiry, but doesn’t undermine the prosecution case and doesn’t support any known defence case, then it won’t be disclosed,” he said.
In 2017, the CPS launched a review of every live rape and serious sexual assault prosecution in England and Wales and, along with police, has implemented an improvement plan to try to fix failings in the system.
Some 93,000 officers have undertaken training, while police hope artificial intelligence technology can help trawl through the massive amounts of data stored on phones and other devices.