New Victims commissioner sparks row with prosecutors as she says policy of


Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Dame Vera said: “As Victims’ Commissioner, I cannot be expected to adhere to the official line that mobile phone data is only required when necessary to achieve a reasonable line of enquiry. “The overwhelming evidence from those who support rape victims is that the reality is so very different. This evidence has led me to conclude victims are routinely being asked to hand over their mobile phones, even in some cases where their attacker is a stranger and there could not have been any communication between them.“I want this practice to stop. I want to see a change in culture, where the current digital download form is withdrawn and where only proportionate downloads are made, and only in cases where it is absolutely necessary.” The new Victims’ Commissioner has sparked a row after accusing prosecutors and police of taking “irrelevant” personal information from rape victims’ phones that discredits them.In an outspoken attack on the policy of extracting data from phones, Dame Vera Baird warned rape victims that police would refuse to take their case unless they agreed to have their “whole mobile phone” content searched.In her tweet, she added: “If there’s anything 2 your discredit however irrelevant they’ll hand it 2 your defendant 2B used to allege you’re lying. That’s if the crime U report is rape.”The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) hit back against “misleading and inaccurate” reports, saying digital searches must not be “merely speculative” or “an exercise to find material to undermine the complainant.”“It is simply not true that material which is not relevant to the case will be shared with the defence or shown in court,” said the CPS.Dame Vera’s comments come after Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, said she had “serious concerns” over “digital strip searching” and its impact on privacy rights.A coalition of 10 civil liberties organisations has also warned police and CPS requests to download the contents of victims’ mobile phones amounted to a “digital strip search” and were unlawful.