CPS Says: The use of digital data in rape investigations and prosecutions
The CPS is concerned about the impact of further misleading and inaccurate reports about how rape cases are investigated and prosecuted. It is important to clarify that the CPS has issued strict guidelines for police and prosecutors which mean mobile phones and digital data must only be requested to follow a reasonable line of enquiry, and when it forms an essential part of a fair investigation and prosecution.
Digital data searches must not be merely speculative, or an exercise to find material to undermine the complainant. This was reinforced by the recent Court of Appeal judgment (R v E), which confirmed that a fair trial was still possible in a case where a mobile phone had not been seized.
It is simply not true that material which is not relevant to the case will be shared with the defence or shown in court. There are well established safeguards which govern the disclosure of such sensitive information.
Rape and sexual offences are devastating for victims. They are complex and challenging to investigate and prosecute, and privacy must be balanced with a thorough investigation to ensure a fair trial. It is important to dispel myths about how cases are handled in the criminal justice system if victims are to have confidence to come forward.