The metropolitan police has recently introduced a new consent form, for rape victims, that would enable police to scavenge through personal data of the victims in search of vital evidence. For some it’s just a privacy breach.
We’re aware that victims of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence & other crimes are currently directly affected by disproportionate police/CPS requests for phones & social media accounts feel at a loss for what to do.— Big Brother Watch (@bbw1984) April 29, 2019
You can contact us or @centreWJ if you need help & advice.
Other benefits of police’s new tactic include decrease in number of false accusations. Thanks to the additional evidence from the victims phone cases could in theory end more quickly and would cost both the government and the victim much less money and emotion stress.
On the other hand some voices have risen to oppose the new project, calling it “formalising digital strip searches of victims of serious crime”. At least two women who recently became victims of sexual assaults are preparing to challenge new forms legally. One of them named Olivia said: “The data on my phone stretches back seven years and the police want to download it and keep it on file for a century.”
Some major voices got involved in the problem one of them being Big Brother Watch – a company registered in England and Wales that provides support for rape victims. The company is also involved in many other projects including fighting for privacy at home and on the streets as well as free speech. Today its director, Silkie Carlo visited Victoria Derbyshire to explain how the the new consent forms might affect the future of the United Kingdom.
“It’s formalising digital strip searches of victims of serious crime”— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) April 29, 2019
Silkie Carlo from @bbw1984 says asking victims of crime, including rape, to hand phones to police could stop some coming forwardhttps://t.co/YH2hHYaOkG #VictoriaLIVE pic.twitter.com/4szUqYcfmu
Some mention that the new policy could discourage rape victims from reporting offences to the police because of the fear of sharing their personal data. On the other hand police states that access to phone calls, messages, pictures and emails might be vital to closing the case.
The argument is very important in the present world as the UK sexual assault rates increase. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) almost 650,000 British citizens were victims of sexual assault in 2016. That includes 510,000 women and 138,000 men. Either way, the rape victims will suffer a heavy blow. On one hand they might have to face sharing their personal data with the police while on the other hand they might just block a very useful policy that could tremendously help them get the justice.
“It’s the only way to get this evidence”— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) April 29, 2019
Samuel Armstrong was cleared of rape ion 2017 after disclosure issues with his case.
He believes police should be able to ask victims of crime to hand their phones overhttps://t.co/YH2hHYaOkG #VictoriaLIVE pic.twitter.com/qrYVhBvYOa
If you were a victim of rape yourself please contact your local authority at 999 or call the national helpline at 0808 802 9999.