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Rape victims are being told to hand over their mobile phones to police or risk their attacker escaping justice if they refuse.
Officers are seeking permission to trawl through victims' text messages, emails, photographs, videos and social media for evidence.
Privacy - Rape - Campaigners - Move - Strip
But privacy and rape campaigners say the move is akin to a 'digital strip search'.
Reacting to the move, Harriet Wistrich, of the founder of Centre for Women's Justice, writes below: 'This move comes at a time when the number of rape prosecutions has fallen – and when only about 2 per cent of reported rapes result in a criminal conviction.
Victims - Suspects - Crime - Insult
'Treating victims as you'd expect suspects of crime to be treated simply adds insult to injury.'
Police chiefs have agreed a new consent form to allow detectives to seize mobile phones and laptops from victims and witnesses.
Form - 'If - Permission - Police - Prosecution
The form states: 'If you refuse permission for the police to investigate, or for the prosecution to disclose material which would enable the defendant to have a fair trial then it may not be possible for the investigation or prosecution to continue.'
The policy is already being rolled out across the 43 police forces in England and Wales, but has only been officially announced today.
Victims - Device - Extraction - Form - Allegations
Victims will now be asked to sign a 'digital device extraction' form when they first report their allegations to police.
Police and prosecutors argue the form is a 'positive step' as there is no law to force complainants or witnesses to disclose phones, laptops, tablets and smart watches.
Harriet - Wistrich - Director - Centre - Women
But Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women's Justice, has pledged to mount a legal challenge, arguing the forms are unlawful as they breach data protection, human rights and equality laws.
The lawyer, who represented victims of black cab rapist John Worboys, has been instructed by two women who were told that their rape allegations would...
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