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A new code of practice was added to the UK’s Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts (PCSC) Act, to better protect the digital privacy of rape victims.
The new code will require the police to request information from victims’ devices only when necessary and that all victims are treated with the same high protection standards. The idea is to encourage more people to come forward to report sexual assault.
The police will also be required to inform victims why they are asking for the device and what information they are looking for. Victims should also be told that they can refuse to give up their devices without their cases being dropped.
“It is vital victims are treated with utmost sensitivity and respect when reporting crimes, so that more victims feel able to come forward,” said minister for safeguarding, Mims Davies.
“These new measures are part of our commitment to ensuring police investigate crimes against women and girls thoroughly, with a clear focus on the suspect, not the victim.”
According to the UK government’s website, the update to the code is part of the End-to-End Rape review, which is aimed at achieving “systemic and cultural change to improve the victim experience and to bring offenders to justice.”
“The NPCC welcomes the new powers within the PCSC Act,” said lead for disclosure at the National Police Chiefs’ Council ACC Tim de Meyer.
“For 2 years, we have been working with criminal justice partners, government, and victims groups to improve this area of investigative practice.
“As investigators, we must ensure the suspect’s absolute right to a fair trial while protecting the privacy of victims and witnesses. The new code of practice will help us to achieve this.”