Victims of rape being asked to turn over digital devices

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BRITAIN Police in England and Wales are giving victims of crime, including rape, an ultimatum. Turn over electronic devices or risk having your case thrown out.

Courtesy: KNOE 8 News

Courtney, whose identity is protected, says it happened to her when she reported her sexual assault.

''They said straight up they were going to going to download everything and have to look through everything, they only said that if i didn't give it - that they wouldn't pursue my case anymore,'' says Courtney.

The new policy requires victims to sign a consent form, allowing police to search their cell phone and laptop for evidence before the case moves forward.

Police say this strategy is in response to a series of sexual assault cases that collapsed, when crucial digital evidence was found during trial.

Liam Allan was falsely accused of rape, until text messages in court proved the accuser had lied.

"There's something in there that will either assist the case or assist the defense. and the police need to have access to that - otherwise there's no right to a fair trial then," says Allan.

But critics believe the new policy treats victims like suspects, and will prevent future victims from coming forward.

'It's massively intrusive. It really has an impact on victims of rape who may be severely traumatized already by what's happened.''

Courtney agrees and says the intrusion forced her to drop her sexual assault claim.

'Ii had to make the choice between privacy and justice and for self-preservation, i had to choose privacy,'' says Courtney.

Police say while they can't force victims to hand over their digital devices, doing so could speed up their path to justice.