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Refrain from asking victims to hand over their phone: Police Comm's association

Devdiscourse News Desk | London | Updated: 05-05-2019 19:20 IST | Created: 05-05-2019 16:27 IST
Refrain from asking victims to hand over their phone: Police Comm's association
The digital consent forms ask victims of crime - including rape complainants - to hand over their phones so officers can look for evidence. If victims do not comply, prosecutions may not go ahead, according to a media report on Sunday. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Police Commissioners have urged the Crown Prosecution Service to scrap a policy of asking crime victims in England and Wales to hand over their phones saying it could lead to a loss of confidence in the criminal justice system. The digital consent forms ask victims of crime - including rape complainants - to hand over their phones so officers can look for evidence. If victims do not comply, prosecutions may not go ahead, according to a media report on Sunday.

The forms were introduced in response to the disclosure scandal when several court cases collapsed after crucial evidence emerged at the last minute. But the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) say "the forms should be withdrawn".

The forms - which have been introduced in all 43 police forces in England and Wales - ask for permission to view data including messages, photographs, emails and social media accounts, BBC reported. Victims' groups say they amount to a "digital strip search" - and now, police commissioners say they could lead to a loss of confidence in the criminal justice system, the report said.

"...material unconnected to the case was being used to discredit complainants," the APCC's Dame Vera Baird was quoted as saying in the report. The group's Julia Mulligan further added that it was "truly awful" that victims needed to "expose oneself to this in return for an investigation".

The police and the CPS say the forms will only be used when relevant, and they have invited victims' groups to help improve the form.


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