The impact on rape victims of police seizures of their mobile phones is to be examined as the UK’s Metropolitan Police begin piloting a data inspection system designed to limit invasion of privacy.
The review by London’s victims’ commissioner, Claire Waxman, comes amid precipitous falls in the number of rape prosecutions nationally and fears that intrusive methods are deterring complainants from reporting attacks or pursuing cases.
Waxman coordinated the groundbreaking London rape review last year which found that only three per cent of rape allegations in the capital resulted in convictions.
Civil liberty organisations have said police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) requests to download the contents of victims’ mobile phones amount to a “digital strip search” and are unlawful.
Women’s organisations also complain that officers frequently demand victims’ phones even where the reported assault involves someone who was a stranger.