My pals at InsideMan magazine asked me for my views on the recent guidelines sent to police investigators for rape trials. The piece I gave them is here, with some interesting comments and discussion underneath, but I thought I’d repost here for luck
This week Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, announced that a new toolkit of rape investigation procedures is to be sent to police officers. The reaction from men around my digital neighbourhood on social media, comment threads and forums was pretty fierce – abusively angry at worst, concerned or worried at best.
The negative reactions were understandable, given the headlines. They were also misplaced. The proposals announced are I believe modest and necessary, they are also genuinely helpful not only to women and girls, but to men and boys.
First, the facts. Despite what you might have (reasonably) taken from some of the headlines, it is not true that those accused of rape must now produce proof that they had consent in order to defend themselves. Read through to the actual words of the DPP and what she said was:
“We want police and prosecutors to make sure they ask in every case where consent is the issue – how did the suspect know the complainant was saying yes and doing so freely and knowingly?”
If there is a scandal here, it is not that police investigators will be expected to ask such questions from now on – the scandal is that they might ever not have asked such a question in the past. [Read more…]