National Police Chiefs' Council Chair Sara Thornton blogs on disclosure
National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Chair Sara Thornton has published a blog on the NPCC website in response to the recent debate around disclosure of evidence.
In it, she says:
"In the desire to solve this issue, we must guard against going beyond reasonable lines of inquiry. We cannot allow people to be put off reporting to us because they fear intrusion into their lives and private information that’s not relevant to the crime being shared in court –the digital equivalent of the tired trope of women in short skirts “asking for it". This is why the idea of handing all evidence to the defence won’t work – it would go beyond what is reasonable and proportionate."
In response, Rape Crisis England & Wales commented:
"Rape Crisis welcomes this considered response from the NPCC to the current debates around evidence disclosure, particularly in sexual offence cases.
The proliferation of new technologies and the fast-paced, ever-changing digital world have altered not only the way sexual offences now need to be investigated but also the ways sexual violence perpetrators gain access to, target, groom and abuse both children and adults, and the ways victims and survivors seek and gain information and support. As a response to these changes, Rape Crisis England & Wales has been developing specialist online services for women, young women and girls, to be launched in next few months.
As we tackle these challenges, it's vital to remember that published data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) tells us the vast majority of those impacted by sexual violence of all kinds currently never report to the police. For many who do report, the criminal justice process can take years and feel re-traumatising. The justice system is failing too many victims and survivors of sexual violence and specialist Rape Crisis support services remain under-resourced.
Rape Crisis particularly welcomes the NPCC's clear acknowledgement of the dangers of disproportionate intrusion into complainants' lives and the need for evidence gathering to remain reasonable and appropriate, despite the challenges of the digital age."