COPS are facing a backlash over a new policy which tells rape victims they must hand over their mobile phones to investigators or risk prosecutions against their attackers not going ahead.
Campaigners said consent forms rolled out to 43 police forces in England and Wales are an invasion of privacy and treat victims like suspects.
Carrie Symonds says the invasion of privacy makes the victim feel in the wrong[/caption]
The move is in response to a string of rape and serious sexual assault cases that collapsed last year due to previously undisclosed mobile phone evidence.
A victim of black cab rapist John Worboys Carrie Symonds tweeted: “Yet another way the victim is made to feel like the one really on trial.
The former Tory aide and girlfriend of Boris Johnson added: “It’s not just a violation of the victim’s privacy but that of anyone who ever texted, WhatsApped, sent pictures to them.
“With rape charges at their lowest in 10 years, something isn’t working.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also waded in, tweeting: “With rape and sexual assaults already under-reported, this disturbing move risks letting more rapists get away with it.”
But Liam Allen, whose rape trial was abandoned after police were ordered to hand over phone records, welcomed the move as a “good start”.
He said: “I understand there are reservations …. But considering my case … it was that the evidence was on the complainant’s phone [that was] so much more valuable than people realise.”
Theresa May’s spokesman told a Westminster briefing the issue was “complex”, adding: “The police have acknowledged that the use of personal data in criminal investigations is a source of anxiety and that they understand the need to balance a respect for privacy with the need to pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry.”
Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill said devices will only be looked at when they form a “reasonable line of inquiry” and only “relevant” material will go before a court.
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The Crown Prosecution Service added: “It is not true that complainants in rape cases must automatically hand over personal data on their digital devices or run the risk of the prosecution being dropped.
“Mobile phone data, or social media activity, will only be considered by the police when relevant to an individual case.”
But privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch called the measures “digital strip searches” and said it could deter people from reporting crimes.
Critics say the new move could actually stop rape victims from coming forward[/caption]
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