Rape victim: I felt like I was being investigated as I reported my assault

"It felt like I was being investigated," said a woman who filed a rape report to the police.

Rape victim: I felt like I was being investigated as I reported my assault

"It felt like I was being investigated," said a woman who filed a rape report to the police.

Sarah Jenkin stated that police sought her consent to access her social and medical records as well as her mobile phone.

She said that "you're just stripped down" in order for the case to proceed.

Police and prosecutors are being asked to cease collecting data on rape victims from them. The government claims it has strengthened the law regarding digital data requests.

According to the CPS, investigators and prosecutors are required to carefully consider when they should seek victim's information. Requests must be specific and made only when it is necessary.

John Edwards, the Information Commissioner's Office, a regulator established to protect rights and rules regarding information, stated that many victims are being treated as "suspects".

A new report reveals that survivors are frequently asked for their medical records and social service files, as well as school files in cases where possible. This is called a "digital strip search".

Ms Jenkin's rape complaint was not brought to trial. She said that she felt "very raw, vulnerable" during the experience.

It is a serious violation, and it is obvious that it was. It was as if I were the one being investigated. I was actually the one being tried.

"I was unsure what to expect... it became apparent quite quickly that I would need a lot more information that did not make sense to me."

"At that time, I felt very overwhelmed", but Ms Jenkin, who waived her anonymity, asked: "What relevance has my social care records to the fact that I've reported an attack?"

"If I was to report a burglary I doubt that this amount of data would be required from my - I would have been believed and it would all be investigated."

Ms Jenkin claimed that she was told this was "standard practice" during the investigation. The implication was that if you don’t agree, the case would be canceled.

Katherine Araniello filed a rape report to police. She was asked for her cell phone, work mobile, medical records, and information from her therapist.

"I found that section of the investigation extremely hard - coming to terms the fact that all my personal data were being harvested," stated Ms Araniello. She has also waived her anonymity.

She stated that she was forced to explain to her colleagues at work why she couldn't use her phone.

"If you try to handle something discretely in your daily life, it will force that issue out."

It's not only inconvenient, but it's also horrendous to lose that contact."

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which was investigating Ms. Araniello's rape case, dropped it days before the case was due to court.

She stated that there were certain personal items in her medical records that she didn't want an investigator asking about during the "intrusive."

"It's more than just the relevant facts, it's all.

"Everything was scrutinised, and I wasn't comfortable with that much information not being under the security of a GP."

Ms. Araniello stated that victims who report sexual assault would benefit from an understanding of the facts and communication about what information is being taken.

Edwards stated that such intrusive practices after a life-altering attack made it no surprise that victims retreated from the legal system.

He suggested that this was leading to very low conviction rates of serious sexual offenses.

Conviction rates of rape have fallen to an already low level, something that the UK government claims it is "deeply ashamed" of.

Victims of sexual crime are often forced to hand over their phones. This is voluntary and they can be told that the case will be closed for failure to comply.

In its Rape Review, the government stated last summer that digital material from victims would only be requested if it was "necessary" and "property".

The Home Office pointed out this law change and stated that it had provided PS5m funding to 24 police departments for new technology in order to ensure that no victim of adult rape is without a phone for more than 24 hours.

It will soon launch a public consultation on police requests for personal data. The law also requires that authorities inform victims in writing why they are being sought.

According to Mr Edwards' report, police officers are asked to stop using forms that indicate broad consent to receive data from victims.

The National Police Chiefs' council responded that it had already started work to improve the response of police forces to rape victims.

One charity claims that neither the CPS nor the commissioner have gone far enough.

According to the Centre for Women's Justice, guidance is required to inform police and prosecutors not to "seek to trawl rape survivors' private data looking for any that might undermine their credibility".

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