A piece by Jonathan Ames, Legal Editor, and Richard Ford, Home Correspondent, in today’s Times:
Police must not waste scarce resources on needlessly trawling through electronic devices in rape cases, the justice secretary has said.
Robert Buckland, QC, issued a warning to investigators in an effort to calm fears that forces were conducting “digital strip searches” of women.
Mr Buckland said he was concerned that complainants in sexual assault cases — mostly women — were “having their innocent private lives trawled over by complete strangers”. [J4MB: What an absurd concern. The police officers doing the investigations MUST be “complete strangers” to the alleged victims. Where is the concern for the “innocent private lives” of the men faced with potentially false allegations, and unsafe convictions?]
However, Liam Allan, the student who was falsely accused of rape and acquitted after evidence from the complainant’s phone exonerated him, said in response that “sometimes a deep trawl of digital evidence is necessary”.
Mr Allan said: “How can the police know what is relevant until they know what is there?” [J4MB emphasis]
In April two women said that they would bring a legal challenge to new forms that those reporting rape are required to sign, allowing detectives to seize information from complainants’ phones, computers and smart watches.
Campaign groups say that victims are being deterred from coming forward because they fear that their personal details could be handed over to their attackers and their sexual histories could be used against them in court.
A nine-page “digital evidence extraction” document being used by all 43 police forces in England and Wales covers call records, text messages, emails, contacts, apps and internet use.
Mr Buckland, who practised at the criminal Bar for two decades and is also lord chancellor, said that police should be told to approach investigations of digital evidence with caution.
“It is about reasonable lines of inquiry,” he said. “Anything that is a needless trawl is, in my mind, unreasonable and a waste of resources. We need to get those messages out there to women and victims to say this is not going to happen.” He added: “Where relevant, then, yes, your telephone might have to be looked at. But it is not going to be a blanket approach in every case. [J4MB: There SHOULD be a blanket approach in every case, by default. Sometimes only this type of evidence keeps innocent men from being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.]
“I really want to get that message across and to encourage more complainants to come forward and then I hope we will see a consequential rise in prosecution rates.” [J4MB emphasis]
The latest figures show that the proportion of rapes [J4MB: ALLEGED rapes] recorded in the year to March that resulted in a charge in the same time period was 1.5 per cent, down from 5.4 per cent three years ago. [J4MB: An inevitable consequence of moving from automatically believing the alleged rape victims were telling the truth, and the men guilty.]
The Times revealed in May that forces have as many as 2,000 digital devices awaiting examination.
Claire Waxman, the victims’ commissioner in London, said: “While I welcome the lord chancellor’s comments reinforcing the message that only reasonable lines of inquiry should be followed, it’s clear the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have lost sight of this and urgent work is needed to restore the balance.” [J4MB: What “balance”? The balance between due process and feminist demands?]
You can subscribe to The Times here.
UK Men’s Rights Action, our official supporters’ Facebook page, is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.