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Sexual Offences: Prosecutions

Attorney General written question – answered on 19th October 2018.

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Photo of Roger Godsiff Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

To ask the Attorney General, what assessment his Department carried out to determine whether the CPS requirement for people who have been victims of sexual assault to sign a Stafford statement complies with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights; what guidelines exist as to whether people reporting sexual assault must agree to sign such a statement; and what information those people are given about what that process involves.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

A “Stafford statement” is not a CPS requirement, but is used by some police forces to seek the consent of the complainant to access material held by third parties when this is relevant to the investigation.

It is of vital importance that the personal information of complainants who report sexual offences is treated in a way that is consistent with both their right to privacy and with the interests of justice. CPS guidance is clear that requests for access to information held by third parties or on digital devices must be a reasonable line of inquiry, justified by the circumstances of the individual case. It should not be undertaken routinely in every case.

As part of the National Disclosure Improvement Plan, the CPS are working closely with the police to ensure that complainants are given the opportunity to make an informed decision about allowing police access to their personal information. This will ensure that complainants are aware of both how their digital devices or records will be examined and the use that may be made of any data obtained through that examination, including informing the complainant if it is to be disclosed to the defendant.

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