The fight is not limited to Great Britain. In the United States last week, Bill Cosby’s rape conviction was overturned on procedural grounds. Because Mr Cosby’s lawsuit was one of the few cases that had been hailed as a sign that the justice system was finally taking rape and sexual assault seriously, his freedom of movement has left many wondering whether the calculation societal action of #MeToo can translate into real prosecutions and protections.
Kate Ellis, a lawyer at the Center for Women’s Justice, a London legal charity, has represented Brooke in her fight to change the rules so that she and other survivors can file a complaint without having to give up their privacy. But she said she was also sympathetic to the bond the police find themselves in now that the digital strip search has officially been withdrawn, but the same incentives that led to its creation in the first place are still present.
The thing to understand, she said, is that police and prosecutors suffer little consequence when they close a case for lack of evidence or because victims stop cooperating. But if they file a case that collapses or fails, they can face serious setbacks.
“So a victim who’s not perfect, or who’s been dishonest before, there’s a feeling of, you know, why pursue the case? » she said in an interview.
The Crown Prosecution Service has denied having an aversion to risk in deciding which cases to pursue. In parliamentary testimony in June, Max Hill, the director of public prosecutions, appeared to blame the police, saying his prosecutors were ready to bring any case where the legal test was met, but too few cases were never returned. for prosecution because “something is wrong at a very early stage”.
But the two are not separate. Police often demand a lot of digital evidence because they believe prosecutors won’t proceed without it.
And the reason for this reluctance, Ms. Ellis found in her work with sexual assault victims, is that police fear blame for failing to disclose evidence.