Authorities warned ‘intrusion’ could stop women reporting rape after prosecutions fall to 1.7 per cent
'Rape and domestic violence victims will be forced to give police access to their phones and social media accounts or face their cases being dropped.
New forms being handed out across England and Wales warn that if a complainant refuses to surrender their digital devices, or tries to prevent any personal information being shared, “it may not be possible for the investigation or prosecution to continue”.
Police were warned that the “traumatising” intrusion might stop victims reporting sexual assault and abuse.
But all forces started using the forms earlier this year, as part of a strategy to improve the way potential evidence is shared between officers, prosecutors and defence lawyers.
The “national disclosure improvement plan” was sparked by public outrage over a series of rape cases that collapsed over newly discovered messages and photos in 2017.
While acquitted suspects have warned of miscarriages of justice, campaigners say the demands are causing complainants to drop cases.
Figures released last week show that only 1.7 per cent of reported rapes were prosecuted in 2018, and 40 per cent of cases were closed with the marker “evidential difficulties – victim does not support action”.
The Victims Commissioner said victims of sexual violence were being re-traumatised by “routinely having their personal lives disproportionately investigated and disclosed in criminal trials”.'
Read more: Rape victims must hand phones to police or face investigations being dropped under new scheme