Rape victims’ cell phones is not going to be seized “as a matter after all” in legal investigations, the brand new head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has stated.

In his first public tackle within the position, Max Hill QC vowed to enhance the way in which proof is disclosed to defence attorneys in legal trials, following the collapse of a collection of rape instances over newly found messages.

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Police accuse the CPS of “elevating the bar” for prosecutions following the scandal, and girls’s rights teams and victims’ advocates have demanded an investigation into the seizure of rape victims’ private communications, images and movies.

Mr Hill stated the appropriate to a good trial have to be balanced towards the “pointless and unjustified invasion” of complainants’ non-public lives, which can be used to undermine them in courtroom.

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“We’re very clear that searching for to look at the cellular telephones of complainants and witnesses isn’t one thing that ought to be pursued as a matter after all in each case,” he stated, whereas delivering the annual Kalisher lecture. 

“It’s essential that solely the affordable traces of inquiry are pursued, to keep away from pointless intrusion right into a complainants’ private life. There have to be one thing past a purely speculative enquiry.”

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Mr Hill, who was previously the unbiased reviewer of terrorism laws, stated cell phones can current an affordable line of inquiry however “it’s of important significance that the private info of those that report sexual offences is handled in a manner that’s in step with each their proper to privateness and with the pursuits of justice”. 

Liam Allan says rape suspects ought to have anonymity till confirmed responsible

He grew to become director of prosecutions earlier this month, after his predecessor Alison Saunders was closely criticised throughout a scandal over disclosure and collapsed rape instances.

Campaigners Large Brother Watch grew to become the most recent group to boost concern over police and prosecution practices once they demanded an investigation by the Info Commissioner final week.

Sara Thornton, chair of the Nationwide Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), is amongst senior figures warning that folks may very well be deterred from reporting rape “as a result of they worry intrusion into their lives and personal info that’s not related to the crime being shared in courtroom”. 

The Affiliation of Police and Crime Commissioners has stated “proof on the bottom means that even when officers are assured that they’ve pursued all affordable traces of inquiry, they’re typically being advised by the CPS to pursue all different accessible sources”.  

In September, a lawyer specialising in sexual offence instances advised The Impartial that the CPS had been pushing rape prosecutors to enhance conviction charges.

Cris McCurley, a household legislation companion at Ben Hoare Bell, stated: “Prosecutors have been being advised solely to tackle the nailed-on instances the place you recognize there can be a conviction, as a result of ‘we have to make the speed higher’.”

The CPS says practices haven’t modified, though a senior official admitted earlier this month that the collapse of a collection of rape trials over disclosure failures had “resonated by way of the entire legal justice system”.  

Among the many most high-profile was that of scholar Liam Allan, who had 12 rape and sexual assault fees towards him dropped after the invention of messages confirmed the claimant pestered him for “informal intercourse”.

An investigation by the Justice Committee discovered that the failure of police and prosecutors to correctly share related proof with defence attorneys might trigger the collapse of trials or miscarriages of justice.

Talking on Tuesday, Mr Hill stated: “I totally settle for that errors have occurred, and that we are going to rightly be criticised and questioned when issues do go unsuitable. I’m decided that we be taught from these errors.”

He expressed ambitions to enhance the general public’s understanding of the CPS’s work and the way it reaches selections.

Mr Hill added: “I’m nonetheless underneath no illusions that public confidence can be primarily based on belief that our work is of the very best high quality. There have been some large challenges due to disclosure points.

“I need to ensure the main target and momentum of our work to drive enhancements is maintained over the approaching years and hope public confidence will develop consequently.”


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