Crown Prosecution Service and police forcing “digital strip searches” of victims

Big Brother Watch Team / April 29, 2019

Victims of crimes, including rape victims are being asked to hand their phones over to police, and told that if they don’t the prosecution won’t go ahead.

Big Brother Watch’s “Victims Not Suspects” campaign is fighting these sweeping digital interrogations and calling for a proportionate and fair system that serves justice to complainants and defendants alike.

These “digital strip searches” and AI analysis of individuals’ digital records are putting the future of fair trials in jeopardy.

In a statement, Big Brother Watch’s Legal and Policy Officer Griff Ferris said:

“It is important for both victims and suspects that investigations are fair, proportionate and timely. However, these excessive digital trawls are simply a knee-jerk response that further delay and obstruct justice.

“The CPS is insisting on digital strip searches of victims that are unnecessary and violate their rights. Police investigators are drowning in irrelevant phone and social media data about victims’ private lives that often predate the reported crime by years. Some forces are even scouring victims’ devices with artificial intelligence tools that are an invasive, experimental and wholly inappropriate replacement for police investigative work.

“Treating rape victims like suspects in this way delays investigations and trials, prolongs distress for both victims and suspects, deters victims from reporting and obstructs justice. Urgent reform is needed so victims no longer have to sacrifice their private lives to bring criminals to justice.”


Read more:

BBC – Rape victims among those to be asked to hand phones to police

ITV News – Victims face choice of ‘giving up privacy’ or ‘being raped with impunity’ as they are told to hand over phones

BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire – Rape victims asked to hand phones to police

Sky News – Rape victims must hand mobile phones to police or risk cases being dropped

The Telegraph – Hand over your phones or see attackers walk free, rape victims told

The Guardian – Rape cases ‘could fail’ if victims refuse to give police access to phones

New York Times – U.K. Police Have a Message for Crime Victims: Hand Over Your Private Data

Politics Home – Cross-party backlash mounts as new guidelines ask rape victims to hand over phones to police

The Metro – Rape victims ordered to give their phones to police if they want to see justice

Daily Mail – Rape victims must hand over phones or prosecutions may not go ahead – police

Daily Mail – Corbyn attacks moves to get rape victims to hand mobile phones to police

The Sun – Rape victims are being told their cases could be dropped if they don’t hand over their mobile phone to police

Evening Standard – Rape victims ‘will be put off going to police’ over mobile phone plans

BBC News – Anger at rape victims being asked to hand phones to police

The Telegraph – Digital strip search: How everything from Facebook messages to Fitbit data could be used against you in court

Daily Mail – Uproar at new rules calling for rape complainants to hand over phones to police as it would ‘put victims on trial’ and lower charge rate

Daily Mail – Violation or justice? As rape victims face being compelled to hand over their phones to the police as evidence, read these compelling and utterly conflicting voices and judge for yourself

Daily Express – Ordering rape victims to hand over mobiles to police is like a ‘digital strip search’

Vogue – Why Police Are Facing Backlash Asking Rape Victims To Hand Over Mobile Data

Refinery29 – This New Rape Case Rule Is The Equivalent Of A Digital Strip Search

Law Society Gazette – ‘Sexual history not up for grabs’: disclosure consent forms challenged

Forbes – Police Ask Rape Victims To Hand Over Phones—Are These ‘Digital Strip Searches’ Necessary?

Deutsche Welle – UK police order rape victims to hand over phone data

San Francisco Chronicle – Police in parts of UK urge rape victims to hand over phones