“We welcome the publication of the Attorney-General’s review into disclosure but note that the report only briefly touches on privacy issues that affect victims and does not mention the issues around third party disclosure and rape cases.
These issues are crucial to ensuring that victims of rape are not subject to an unwarranted greater level of intrusion and scrutiny than victims of other offences. This is not just about digital data and access to victims’ telephones – although this is important – but about ensuring that the Police are not routinely requiring victims of rape to sign away their right to privacy and by doing so allow unfettered access to third party material such as medical records. If victims know that both their personal information on their mobile phone and official records, such as medical records, will be routinely accessed and disclosed, when victims of other crimes are not subject to the same treatment, this will inevitably deter them from coming forward.
That is why we are pleased that the importance of these issues was explicitly acknowledged by the Attorney General, when speaking at the report’s publication, and we are both happy to accept his invitation to sit on a working group to take this forward.
A key part of our role is to ensure that the voice of the victim is at the centre of this work and that the issue of how the Criminal Justice System deals with the disclosure of information in rape cases, as well as ensuring a fair trial for the defendant, is reasonable and proportionate and respects the rights of the victim.”