Sexual assault victim tells LBC why she couldn't give her phone to police

18 June 2020, 15:32

Victims of sexual assault handing mobile phones to police has been dubbed a "digital strip search", one victim tells LBC why she did not give officers her phone.

Andrea, a victim of sexual assault at the age of 16, told LBC why she didn't want to hand her phone over to police officers.

She told Nick Ferrari she knew the person who assaulted her, "I thought we were friends" she said.

"I didn't hand over my phone [to police] because I knew there were texts on my phone which would make it seem as though what had happened to me was consensual."

The subject was being discussed as the Information Commissioner's Office concluded controversial consent forms allowing police officers to examine the mobile phones of rape victims should be withdrawn.

Campaigners dubbed their introduction a "digital strip search" and raised fears it would deter people from coming forward with complaints.

The digital consent forms - that ask to give officers access to messages, photographs, emails and social media accounts - were rolled out by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) in a bid to standardise practice across all forces as part of a response to the disclosure scandal.

In a joint response to the report, the NPCC, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and College of Policing said they would "carefully consider" the recommendations
In a joint response to the report, the NPCC, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and College of Policing said they would "carefully consider" the recommendations. Picture: PA

The sexual assault victim explained to LBC she had "liked the person who assaulted me, and I had hoped at some stage it might have developed into a relationship."

"What was worse than not handing over my phone, would be to hand it over, go to trial and be destroyed because of it," she said.

Nick Ferrari asked how much did it concern her that her attacker might go on to attack others.

Andrea said it "massively" concerned her, but she felt because they lived in the same town she felt she was able to keep an eye on him.

Nick Ferrari was speaking to a sexual assault victim
Nick Ferrari was speaking to a sexual assault victim. Picture: PA

Laying bare the consequences of the attack on her, Andrea said: "After the event, my personality changed massively."

"I would say I went off the rails, I started relationships without really thinking about who I was in a relationship with, I ended up in an abusive relationship."

But, Andrea says her now-husband has "saved my life."

"It felt like if I had handed it [her mobile phone over] it would have give people an excuse to not believe me."

When Nick Ferrari asks if she ever questions the decision not to give her phone to police, she said the only time that happens is when she had to tell her mother what happened.

Listen to the whole heartbreaking call in the video at the top of the page.

Andrea's name has been changed to protect her identity.