The British police now expect victims alleging rape to give up extensive personal data if they want their case pursued, sparking outrage among politicians, rights advocates, and sexual assault survivor groups.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council and Crown Prosecution told the Evening Standard only a “reasonable line of enquiry” would justify examining electronic devices, and victims would be notified before their private messages were presented in court.

The new policy may be a bid to avoid wasting police resources, after previously unseen digital exchanges dismantled 916 rape charges, including student Liam Allan’s high profile trial in 2017.

But detractors argue the policy constitutes a “digital strip-search”, treating the victim as a suspect and forcing them to endure additional scrutiny or risk their case never being brought forward.

Women's rights activists insist the “Digital Processing Notice” requirement will discourage women who already face significant hurdles to be believed.

Does this new rule unjustly make victims—rather than police forces—responsible for the proper investigation of sexual assault allegations?

Or is such information disclosure both usual and necessary to help investigators identify credible claims faster?

     

Sexual assault | Where to get help

For help and support, if you’re a victim of sexual assault, contact organisations such as


Rape Crisis (rapecrisis.org.uk) on 0808 802 999

SurvivorsUK (survivorsuk.org) (for men) on SMS: 020 3322 1860

 

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.