Investigators told to stop the mass collection of personal data in rape and sexual assault cases.
Today the ICO released its report into the processing of victims’ personal data in rape and serious sexual offence investigations. At its core, the Commissioner is concerned that:
- the current approach is undermining trust and confidence in the criminal justice system across the UK;
- victims should not have to subject themselves to intrusive investigation and information collection and use practices as a result of reporting a crime which has been perpetrated upon them
- Victims are being told to consent to hand over extraordinary amounts of information about their lives, in the immediate aftermath of a life changing attack.
- Victims are being asked to allow access to medical records, school reports, social service records and the contents of their mobile phones as a precondition to accessing justice.
- Victims are being treated as suspects.
This is not about data protection or data processing. This is about people feeling revictimised by a system they are entitled to expect support from.
There is growing evidence from different independent reports that suggests these intrusive practices are contributing to victims withdrawing from the legal process and thereby the very low conviction rates in relation to serious sexual offences.
More than 80% of sexual offences are believed to go unreported to police.
A 2019 study in London looked at 501 allegations of rape taken to police. Just 36 led to someone being charged. Only 14 ended in a conviction.
You can read the full report on the ICO site: