Association takes unusual step of intervening in row, saying move would undermine public confidence in justice system
'Britain’s police commissioners are calling on the Crown Prosecution Service to withdraw a controversial new form issued to rape complainants telling them to hand over their mobile phones or risk seeing their case discontinued.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), whose members include a commissioner who is a rape victim, told the Observer that use of the form would result in a loss of confidence in the police, the CPS and the criminal justice system.
It is highly unusual for the association, whose elected members hold the UK’s police forces to account, set their objectives and appoint chief constables, to make such a public criticism of the police and prosecutors. Its decision to speak out reflects the association’s deep unease about the new measure, which potentially applies to all criminal cases but has become of particular concern to support groups for rape victims.
“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,” said the APCC’s victims lead, Dame Vera Baird. “There are also a large number of examples where material unconnected to the facts of the case and sometimes on entirely different topics has been handed by the CPS to the defence and used at court to try to discredit the complainant. These examples are all from sexual assault and rape cases.”'
Read more: Don’t seize rape complainants' mobiles, say police bosses