Hertfordshire police commissioner calls for withdrawal of digital consent forms for rape victims

Hertfordshire police and crime commissioner David Lloyd is calling for the withdrawal of digital con

Hertfordshire police and crime commissioner David Lloyd is calling for the withdrawal of digital consent forms for rape victims. Picture: Gene Weatherley - Credit: Archant

Herts police and crime commissioner David Lloyd is leading the call against requiring rape victims to agree to a search of their digital personal data.

Last week, a new document was announced which rape victims would have to sign, agreeing to the download and search of a wide range of their personal data or facing the risk that their case would be discontinued.

Mr Lloyd, who leads on criminal justice at the national Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), has said the decision should be reversed or it will lead to a lack of trust in the police.

He said: "We have no doubt that this form, as it currently stands, should be withdrawn, or it is likely to result in a loss of confidence in the police, the CPS and the criminal justice system more broadly.

"Many technology companies have made clear that technology can help us with this issue - allowing prosecutors and police to have access only to relevant information on mobile devices.

"We are ready to work closely with the DPP, police chiefs and Attorney General to ensure that any work to improve the system around disclosure is appropriate and has the confidence and safeguarding of victims at its centre."

Elected police and crime commissioners are intended to act as local victims' champions within the criminal justice system.

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APCC victims lead, police and crime commissioner Dame Vera Baird, said: "In our communities, rape and sex offence complainants are telling us that unless they grant unfettered access to their mobile devices, they are told that their case will not be proceeded with.

"There are also a large number of examples where material unconnected to the facts of the case and sometimes months or years before on entirely different topics has been handed by CPS to the defence and used at court to try to discredit the complainant.

"These examples are all from sexual assault and rape cases.

"While we recognise that police must pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry and disclose anything that may undermine the prosecution or assist the defence, this form has been called a digital strip search by campaigners.

"The way to get balance is surely to consult with victims' representatives as well as those who defend."