New Guidelines on Consent for Prosecutors
20 May 2015
Rape Crisis welcomes Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders’ new guidelines on consent for prosecutors.
The DPP launched the guidance in her speech to the first National Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) & Police Conference on Rape Investigations and Prosecutions.
She said the ability to consent should be questioned when the complainant has mental health issues, learning difficulties, or was asleep or unconscious at the time of the alleged attack and went on:
“For too long society has blamed rape victims for confusing the issue of consent - by drinking or dressing provocatively for example - but it is not they who are confused, it is society itself and we must challenge that.
Consent to sexual activity is not a grey area - in law it is clearly defined and must be given fully and freely.
It is not a crime to drink, but it is a crime for a rapist to target someone who is no longer capable of consenting to sex though drink.
These tools take us well beyond the old saying 'no means no' - it is now well established that many rape victims freeze rather than fight as a protective and coping mechanism.
We want police and prosecutors to make sure they ask in every case where consent is the issue - how did the suspect know the complainant was saying yes and doing so freely and knowingly?”