Rape investigations are being systematically dropped after victims refuse to hand over their mobile phones for analysis, an investigation has found.
Freedom of information requests reveal that about one in five complainants decline to submit to what has been termed a “digital strip search”. In every case where a complainant refused to allow officers to download information the case was closed.
Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Our investigation shows that rape victims are being systematically denied justice if they defend their data rights. Victims of no other crime are expected to surrender their digital lives to such speculation and scrutiny.
Olivia (not her real name) reported being drugged and attacked by strangers. Police asked for seven years of phone data, and her case was dropped after she refused.
“I kept trying to ask them if the data that they took could be restricted just to the period of time of relevance to what actually happened, and they said no.”