The National Police chiefs council (NPCC) and the Crown Prosecution Service unveiled plans that would allow a victim’s phone messages to be disclosed. If they refuse to hand over their private data they will be warned that their case may not be pursued. A number of high profile female politicians raised concerns about the plans.

The director of public prosecutions has said that mobile phones will only be looked at where it forms a reasonable line of enquiry, and there would be strict guidelines that only relevant material would be passed to the courts.

Some fear that the progress made towards rape victims could be reversed.

But some fear that the progress made in rape victims coming forward to the police could be reversed.  Because real progress has been made by the police and specialist support organisations in the support of rape victims coming forward. And an important part is the shift away from rape victims feeling as if they have to prove their innocence. The prospect of having to give police material that is not relevant to the case could undermine that work.

Dawn Butler the Shadow Women and Equalities Minister is of the opinion that the news is shameful and yet another example of the government’s failings in putting victims first. Rape convictions are at there lowest in a decade and the new forms will not help to encourage new victims to come forward.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said It should be a choice. It is a backward step as prosecution is so low. In reality a woman could have sent all sorts of messages but consent is not implied or proven by her interactions with her rapist or anyone else.

Two rape victims are to challenge the new ruling.

Two rape victims are legally challenging the new rules on the disclosure of mobile phone messages, The Centre for Women’s justice is also challenging the new rules.

A number of rape cases collapsed last year after the last minute disclosure of text messages between the victim and accused and the fresh guidance came after that. Currently, there is a gap in the law that police can not force complainants to hand over their phones, tablets, smart watches or laptops. The spokesman for the CPS  said Mobile phones should not be examined as a matter of course and it has been made very clear in our guidelines to police and to prosecutors. However in circumstances when it is deemed necessary both for gathering evidence and meeting our disclosure obligations, we are hoping the clearer information we have provided will help complainants give free specific and informed consent.

What is your opinion do you think police should be able to force complainants of rape to hand over their mobile phone?