APCC response to Big Brother Watch report

The Big Brother Watch report, Digital Strip Searches, calls for forces to revise the policy of "mass data downloads", arguing it is "unlawful" and a "gross invasion of privacy" to ask victims to hand in their phones.
Police and Crown Prosecution Service requests to download the contents of victims’ mobile phones amount to a “digital strip search” and are unlawful, according to a coalition of 10 civil liberties organisations.

APCC Victims Lead Julia Mulligan, PFCC said:

“Police and Crime Commissioners have a unique role as the local victims champion within the Criminal Justice System.

“We have a statutory duty to listen to the views and voices of victims in our areas and to commission services to support them. It is therefore concerning to hear directly from victims about the impact that these forms are having in practice on the ground – undermining their confidence and willingness to come forward. All this at a time when we are currently witnessing a significant drop in rape prosecutions which has led to a Government review of the end to end CJS process in these cases.

“We understand and fully accept the position in law that police must pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry and disclose anything that may undermine the prosecution or assist the defence. However, our concern is that by standardising the previous ad hoc forms you are creating a default position whereby victims’ will be routinely asked for access to their devices and all the personal data contained in them.

“PCCs will continue to engage with the Director of Public Prosecutions, National Police Chiefs Council and Attorney General to ensure that any work to improve the system around disclosure is fair, proportionate and has at its centre the importance of safeguarding the rights of victims.”


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