Scrap 'digital strip search' say police bosses

  Quickbeam 07:19 05 May 2019
Answered

This hit the news a few weeks ago, but the 'digital strip search' description that I just heard on the news hit a chord with me regarding the level of personal intrusion that this represents.

I think that it's on a par with the suggestion that we should all be part of DNA database, something that we've talked about before, but my liberal minded side can't accept. Yes, we did all the 'well if you've nothing to hide' stuff... but I really don't like the idea of crime solving becoming a lazy case of pulling an index card and saying 'It was 'im guv', thereby removing the need for any skilled investigation.

Is anyone else of the opinion that you should remain entitled to keep your private life and thoughts private as even the Police Commissioners now think it so?

  Quickbeam 07:22 05 May 2019

...I should add that it's the 'requirement' that the police have this information before prosecuting rather that that the claimant might choose to 'volunteer' it.

  Quickbeam 07:23 05 May 2019

...that I object to.

  Quickbeam 07:24 05 May 2019

...that's why I have quick in my tag!

  Forum Editor 09:48 05 May 2019

A national DNA database would bring enormous benefits as far as crime is concerned. It has been said that men would be far less likely to commit sex crimes if they could be rapidly identified in this way.

Of course there are some cons - DNA substitution at crime scenes being the main one. Substitution (of another person's DNA) by a criminal is certainly a worry, but in my submission it's a relatively small one. A criminal would have to go equipped with the DNA sample, and that involves planning. Huge numbers of crimes are not pre-planned. The owner of the substituted DNA would very often be able to demonstrate an alibi, and in any case there are often several different DNA traces at crime scenes and on victims in any case.

The gains would far outweigh the losses in my opinion, and margins of error would reduce as the science improves.

Should the Police ask victims for their phones? Probably not. I imagine that lots of people would be happy to volunteer to hand them over, but if not there should be no adverse effect on the police attitude to a prosecution going forward.

  Pine Man 10:26 05 May 2019

I don't think that there is a need for the Police to go 'fishing' for evidence by 'Digital Strip Search' in all cases.

I have no doubt that, if the defendant in a case was aware of evidence contained on an alleged victims phone that would suppoort his defence or discredit the prosecutions case, an application could be made to the court for that information to be made available. If such evidence was withheld the court/jury could draw their own conclusions when considering a verdict.

Personally I see no problem with a National DNA data base, which could be of immense benefit in many ways over and above the detection of crime.

  bremner 12:48 05 May 2019

“I don't think that there is a need for the Police to go 'fishing' for evidence by 'Digital Strip Search' in all cases”

This totally misrepresents the position which is all about cases failing due to disclosure issues. The legislation that dictates disclosure is from 1996 and in a digital world is no longer fit for purpose.

Evidence that assists the defence or undermines the prosecution must be disclosed but can only be disclosed if all relevant material is examined. How do you ensure a victims communication data is effectively reviewed without reading all contents?

The introduction of the consent form was rushed through without proper consideration on the impact on the victim and must be withdrawn. However something must be done or the terrible conviction rates in rape cases will only get worse and victims will be even more reluctant to report.

  Forum Editor 14:17 05 May 2019
Answer

The problem with phone data - and in a rape case we are talking about text messages, social media, and possibly sent or received images - is that such things are contextual.

The fact that a woman sends (for instance) a titillating image to a man is not evidence of consent to sexual activity, although a prosecution lawyer may use it to sow a seed of doubt in the minds of the jury.

The digital age has presented us with all kinds of new challenges where evidence is concerned, and this particular aspect of criminal investigation procedures needs to be urgently addressed, as bremner has indicated.

  Quickbeam 07:18 11 May 2019

"The digital age has presented us with all kinds of new challenges"

As was just brought to my mind just now watching this Click piece on police street facial recognition technology.

The worrying thing on this aspect of digital control for me was in the point that a woman makes in that it has no set rules for it's application and use.

The (innocent) man that didn't want to be subject to this uncontrolled invasion of his privacy was issued with a fine citing that it was 'disorderly behaviour', is I would have thought a good case to challenge forced street facial recognition in a court.

Now don't think that I'm totally opposed to the use of this technology, but the man that was fined shows a glaring case of some rules of use needing to be set out clearly. The action in fining a person that values his privacy (as I do), was an example of the clumsiest kind of community policing that is just going to get right up the innocent public's nose if this is an example of an arrogant attitude that all police forces might adopt.

The police have their job to do yes, but to me this was simply ham fisted and lazy policing. At a time when the public confidence in the police is way below what it was 30 or more years ago, they certainly need some education public interaction. This did not put this technology in a good light and would certainly have me in the protest group rather than the support group.

1]: [click here

  Quickbeam 07:48 12 May 2019

Another aspect of the digital age that has just come on the breakfast news is in allowing families the rights to access the personal information, photos, videos etc of the deceased. A lot of personal memories are being erased by servers as they currently won't allow this access.

  oresome 17:46 13 May 2019

I can understand that some people would feel violated if their private conversations were read out in open court and that this is likely to deter even more victims from coming forward.

Nevertheless, to have a fair trial all potential evidence needs to be investigated and cannot be selectively disclosed to favour the case one way or the other.

The degree to which disclosure is relevant to the case is the difficult one and I expect the judge is the person to determine that.

Off the cuff text messages between friends can no doubt be misleading as there may well be some embellishment of the facts or exaggeration of what they would or would not do in reality so I think this evidence needs to be treated with care and any flirtatious messages between the couple doesn't alter the fact that there has to be clear consent at the time of the act.

Rape cases are difficult for juries in that there are often only two people present and it's a case of conflicting accounts from those involved which accounts for the low conviction rate. The majority of victims probably never even press charges as the trauma of the trial is too much.

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