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Capt Haddock
Posted - 11 February 2018 07:40
Not sure about unsafe convictions but Times has been revealing one story every week where men were wrongly accused, lost their life and career over months/years by having their names plastered all over and absolutely nothing for the accuser.

Remember that case of the female barrister who was having sex in Waterloo by a street lamp.,.? She changed her actual consensual sex story to a "rape" which afforded her anonymity whilst protecting her marriage. The male lawyer in that case was plastered all over the media.

DPP has emphatically said that there are no unsafe convictions in the face of growing criticism. But she has her backers in PMO.
cІubman
Posted - 11 February 2018 07:46
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The DPP has said that nobody innocent is in jail as a result of disclosure issues

And the college of policing tells the police to believe complainants

So nothing could possibly go wrong

Hal Incandenza
Posted - 11 February 2018 09:09
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More simply, the police are bent

However that dude should be prosecuted for having a leatherette chair in his garden
Capt Haddock
Posted - 11 February 2018 11:54
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oddly even today mutual anonymity until conviction is not on DPP's table as a recommendation
struandirk
Posted - 11 February 2018 13:28
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A thread on ROF with complete unanimity..wow (FAOD I agree).

It's male-on-male in this case, which is probably why Lydia hasn't popped up yet...

For once I think there's actually a chance of getting mutual anonymity, if this drumbeat of unsafe convictions continues, and some MPs think there may actually be political mileage in pursuing this (vs the cost of being attacked as misogynist), especially if the DPP is forced out. Certainly a better chance of this happening than most of the custody law changes Clubbers talks about..

This isn't a typical case though - for one thing it was male/male. For another, the guy was actually convicted and spent time inside, which is horrific, but at least the accuser was an obvious fantasist, which is why they won the appeal (and more horrific that the blackmail angle was never investigated and a prosecution went ahead).

Much more typical is the case where *something* happens between two drunk uni students and no one can 100% recall what happened, and the girl makes a complaint much later, and the man has his life destroyed and ends up in the Daily Mail on the basis of an accusation alone (especially when even the complainant can't really remember much about what happened - but at least the complainant has her anonymity and is not going to be haunted by the google search for the rest of her life).

The disclosure thing is a combination of under-resourcing and political pressure to believe the victim and secure the conviction at all cost. Like if you're a sexual offences detective, and a reasonable caseload is (say) 4 cases at a time. You've probably got 12 on your plate. You can't possibly investigate them at all to the standard that is required. You've been told again and again that the victim (called that even before it is established that a crime has taken place) must be believed and taken seriously and your performance review depends on getting convictions (even more so in sexual assault cases).

You've got enough to charge and prosecute the accused in Case No. 1 already. It's 8pm and you've been at work for 12 hours and haven't seen your kids in days - plus they keep cutting overtime anyway so you're almost working for free. Are you really going to review the 5,000 Snapchat or Facebook messages that are part of the file "just to be sure"? Or are you going to move on to Case No.2 or 3 which are equally bad and where there's more work to be done? Or are you going to try and head home and try and see the kids before they're asleep for once? Keep in mind that most of the time there *won't* be anything in those 5,000 messages, and you get praised for convictions, not for finding reasons to let accused men in sexual assault cases go free...

Capt Haddock
Posted - 11 February 2018 14:18
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Stru - Recently Leadsom came up with the recommendations on rules to tackle sexual misconduct or crimes in Parliament against female employees - following recent spate of allegations and hands on knee moments.

Her recommendation includes anonymity both for the accuser and the accused. This was something BBC R4 iPM lady interviewer couldn't understand why. Her position was that the accused must be named as by then (the point of accusation), in some minds, a conviction has already occurred. I suspect our DPP is guided by the same thoughts (given her interview with Julia Hartley Brewer in 2015).
January Sails
Posted - 11 February 2018 14:37
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I suspect this goes beyond rape cases. I can see the temptation for police trying to meet targets to say “well that probably won’t help the defence so we’ll stick it in the file”. What I find bizarre is that once the police have taken your phone you seems to have no way to access it and have to rely on the prosecution to disclose its contents.
struandirk
Posted - 11 February 2018 14:58
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Definitely goes beyond rape cases. Beyond policing too. People act according to incentives and if incentives are aligned in one direction they will naturally act in that direction even in the absence of outright fraud- just exercising their discretion will take them there (why do law firms agreeing a fee cap invariably hit the cap?)

The solution is to change the incentive structure. In this case the combination of being conviction target driven, under resourcing and the Alison Saunders “complainant must be believed at all costs” mentality
Cat on a hot tin ceiling
Posted - 11 February 2018 15:08
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Anonymity for the accused in sex crimes is a matter of basic fairness. I really don't see how you can grant an accuser anonymity and not the accused and claim to have any interest in a fair process. If nothing else, this latest round of cases must surely have laid to rest the idea that false accusations are vanishingly rare occurences.

I actually think that anonymity for the accused might also encourage more genuine complainants to come forward. For one thing it means their anonymity is much better protected but also it (at least to some extent) de-escalates matters. Quite a lot of these cases will be a bit blurred. A victim may know they feel aggrieved, know that something has happened to them that they are somewhere between unhappy and absolutely life destroying devastated about but unless it is a classic stranger rape they may actually not be all that clear whether what happened to them is a crime or not. The case law on this is actually pretty complex in terms of the mens rea required to make out a charge of rape and clearly a victim cannot know what her attacker was thinking.

Clearly part of the police's role if they are doing their job properly is to explore all of this. If they can do this without ruining someone's life just on the basis of an accusation then we may see more victims come forward and better policing.


Stixta
Posted - 11 February 2018 15:39
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The standing reasoning behind naming the accused is that it might encourage other victims to come forward, but I actually agree that the accused should be anonymous. It's not fair otherwise.
struandirk
Posted - 11 February 2018 16:44
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Wot Stix said. There is a rationale for the one way anonymity but the trade off in terms of false accusations and collapsing trials isn’t worth it. It’s better to have everyone anonymous.

A couple of lurkers were posting the last time we discussed this when the Liam Allan case broke and one was a former CPS prosecutor and he was saying something along the lines of how false accusations are certainly the minority but they are not vanishingly rare either - they happen often enough that the prosecution needs to be on its guard and examine each case and satisfy itself that the allegation is credible
Misshoolie
Posted - 11 February 2018 16:47
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This thread is sensible so far, there clearly are incidences of false allegations and separately cock ups by plod but just a small voice to say an acquittal =/= a false allegation.
struandirk
Posted - 11 February 2018 16:53
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I agree. There is a clear difference between the outright false allegation of “ how dare he dump/reject me - I’m going to get my back on him (even though all the sex was clearly consensual)” variety (the Liam Allan case among others) and the far more common type of “something happened last night..we were both drunk but I feel really uncomfortable about what happened..I don’t even know if it was a crime or not but I think I should report it”
Jon Snow
Posted - 11 February 2018 17:03
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What Hools said. All this is evidence of is that procedures have not been properly followed, not that the accused didn't do it.

Agree on mutual anonymity. If everyone felt safer that justice would be served, you wouldn't need the bait to bring other accusers out of the woodwork. For that matter, sexual assault shouldn't need to be a serial crime to have enough weight to get a successful prosecution.
Cat on a hot tin ceiling
Posted - 11 February 2018 19:42
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Errm John some of the things that have been revealed have been pretty good evidence the accused didn’t do it (things like a text message from the ‘victim’ to her mate saying ‘it wasn’t against my will or anything’ for example)

In the case linked to in the OP the accused has surely been well and truly vindicated (not just ‘got off on a technicality’).

Clearly not every acquittal means that there was a false accusation and clearly only obviously malicious false accusations should see the accuser prosecuted.

As Stru says some of the hardest cases are where both parties were drunk and/or had taken drugs and nobody is 100% sure exactly what happened. Juries are very slow to convict in those cases in part because they are victims word against the accused’s and the consequences for the accused of a conviction are so life destroying. I do wonder whether there has been a bit of using the trial process and publicity as a form of punishment for the accused even where the CPS know their chances of success are slim.
Capt Haddock
Posted - 11 February 2018 19:59
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what madders said.

Not all acquittals are because there was not enough evidence but also some were acquitted because the complaints were vexatious.

It will be a huge leap to introduce a "deterrence" as some have asked for against these vexatious claims but at the very least introduce mutual anonymity until actual conviction as it will help to ensure that a proper trial and conviction is achieved and not a fishing exercise (again what madders said at 15.08). After that further cases can be built up for more convictions.
Pillsbury
Posted - 11 February 2018 20:54
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What Hoolie says - an acquittal, as we all know can mean highly probable, almost sure, down to didn`t do it. I have never in a trial encountered the latter [as far as I could assess the facts]. But the labelling of complainants as "victims" is plain wrong and unfair until a verdict of guilty.
struandirk
Posted - 11 February 2018 21:44
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Pillsbury presumably because cases that clear cut usually do not make it to trial and may not even make it to charging? Barring police fvckups or disclosure issues like in Liam Allan which promptly collapsed when the disclosure did come out?
camenbert
Posted - 12 February 2018 10:25
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comes down to money as ever - police don't follow procedures because they can't in the timescale. What does that do over time to the quality of policemen?

all the "efficiencies" being found in public services are coming home to roost.
Misshoolie
Posted - 12 February 2018 10:29
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Exactly
Cat on a hot tin ceiling
Posted - 12 February 2018 10:34
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It's more than that though. It's not just a lack of resource it's warping the role of the police from 'find out the truth and if appropriate refer to CPS for decision on whether to prosecute' to 'get a result'. There has always been quite a lot of that...

There are some curious quirks to sex offences since it is pretty rare that there is a 'who done it'. There is very often a question about whether a crime was committed at all. But the police (its seems) get no credit for establishing there was no crime. It just goes down as unsolved crime. That is leading to some warped incentives and that needs to be looked at.

camenbert
Posted - 12 February 2018 10:44
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there's always been pressure to get a result - usually this meant arresting anyone Irish and beating them till they confessed, and it could be got away with as there was no way the police could be properly challenged or made to change their ways.

Then there has been a shift (and to be fair, given the job entry qualifications, the pay scales, and the fact that in the last resort we expect them go and take down armed people with sticks), the police did try to move with the times. Now it seems to have gone too far the other way and the police are not strong enough to stand up to political meddling the other way.
Jonas
Posted - 12 February 2018 10:48
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I totally agree. The police / CPS are no longer investigators of the truth or ministers of justice who win no victories and suffer no defeats.

The second a crime is reported the system swings into action with the overall intent of establishing the guilt of the person identified as being the suspect. If the case is not prosecuted or if the person is found NG then that is deemed a failure.

The culture needs to change. The police should investigate all reasonable lines of enquiry pointing towards and away from the suspect. Which is what the Codes of Practice basically say. The way 'success' is quantified also needs to change.

Part of the problem is you spend thousands of man hours investigating and prosecuting some dude for rape. You then find a few text messages which you probably should have found on day 2 of the investigation but didn't because you are so strapped for manpower and totally focused on proving his guilt following top down direction from that complete bell end Allison Saunders. The texts suggest the suspect might not have done it and would probably blow your case out of the water.

You are in the running for promotion and a result in this case would probably seal the deal. You have literally spent the last 6 months working on the case and to throw in the towel now would be a huge professional embarrassment and failure.

Do you fess up and disclose the texts, or do you keep your gob shut?

Ultimately, the DPP has to shoulder the blame for the 'all men are rapists' narrative and the ridiculous assumption that all complainants are victims who have to be believed.
Jonas
Posted - 12 February 2018 10:56
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You don't need to be an ex cop to know how the system works.

Most of my 7 years PQE has been spent in criminal law, including secondments to the CPS. I have sat in police stations helping them piece together rape cases and giving direction & guidance on what to do next.

I have a pretty good idea of how the system works and I know the pressures that people are under to deliver results.
Jonas
Posted - 12 February 2018 10:59
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I have also defended.

Women really need to be educated that morning after embarrassment, or the fact you have just cheated on your boyfriend / husband does not = rape.
Jonas
Posted - 12 February 2018 11:40
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Based on some of the cases I have been involved in, SOME women need to listen and learn.

And as we can see at the moment, cases collapsing right left and centre owing to serious issues surrounding the credibility of the Complainant. Which is a polite way of saying lying cow.

Jonas
Posted - 12 February 2018 11:59
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Yes, there is an incompetence of some people in plod and some of the lawyers that advise them. There is also overwhelming 'top down' political and strategic pressure to get convictions at all costs. Which is wrong.
Jonas
Posted - 12 February 2018 12:10
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Poor attempt at a wind up. Most probably from someone who knows sod all about criminal law.
Pillsbury
Posted - 12 February 2018 12:11
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Jonas is on the right lines: politically correct top leadership at the CPS, both them and Old Bill grievously under-resourced. Each case, to fall back on the cliché, needs to be looked at on its own merits - without ideological pre-conceptions.
Jonas
Posted - 12 February 2018 12:16
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Agreed. But no-one out there in a position of any real responsibility is prepared to do anything about it.
struandirk
Posted - 12 February 2018 13:34
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Obligatory repost of the police officer blog post about rape that I link to *every* time we have this discussion - make sure you read the comments as well as the blog post, it's full of serving officers who investigate these cases, and it is pretty clear the truth is quite nuanced:

http://pcbloggs.blogspot.co.uk/2008/03/truth-about-rape.html

NOTE: the blog post dates from 2008 - back then the criminal justice system still had decent funding from the Labour government, so things are a lot worse now.
Capt Haddock
Posted - 12 February 2018 13:35
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But no-one out there in a position of any real responsibility is prepared to do anything about it.

Which is an unfortunate reality. All of them appear to be suffering from Lyds' selective amnesia.
Captain Mal
Posted - 12 February 2018 14:31
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Its the "evidence" bit that's the problem isn't it?

As said up above the classic reason for not giving anonymity is to give other victims the chance to come forwards. Given that most rapes come down to "he said, she said" - convictions must be vanishingly rare where there is only a single complainant.

So I think if you're going to give anonymity you need to formalise an alternate reporting method. So encourage people to do what the woman in the Brendan Cox thing did - report the rape but on the basis that no action will be taken on it unless there have been / are in the future further allegations against the person named. Potentially some room for abuse there (I wonder if my boyfriend's ever been accused of rape? I know how I can find out...) but arguably an improvement over the current system?
Capt Haddock
Posted - 12 February 2018 14:35
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Mal - I think it is more than just "lack of evidence" (as you suggest might be on account of "he said she said"). There is also the issue of suppressing evidence to build towards a conviction.
struandirk
Posted - 12 February 2018 14:40
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Mal that might work if a properly structured reporting system is set up but likely will need primary legislation and I don’t see how it will pass - the PR of “police to ignore rape complaints” alone will kill it. Can’t really make a police complaint on the basis that nothing will be done - it begs the question of why make a complaint at all?
Captain Mal
Posted - 12 February 2018 14:54
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cofferdam - certainly but we've got competing problems here feeding each other. Rape conviction rates are terrible - and that in itself is pushing the Police to improve them. You solve some of the harm to the wrongly accused by providing anonymity - but that is going to make the conviction rate even lower and I think you need to do something about that. Alternately you can just tell the police to do a better job - but good luck with that actually achieving very much in and of itself.

struandirk - yes the optics are horrible - but I'm not sure there is an alternate good solution. The answer to "why make the complaint" is "so that he doesn't get away with it again". If you grant anonymity to the accused (which is probably fair) then without some kind of register of complaints you are guaranteeing to every woman making a complaint that it will be her word against his and that she will almost certainly lose. That seems sub-optimal to say the least.

A properly set up system that lets people know that if they come forward they won't be forced to go one and one with the accused and get dragged through things for nothing seems like the best of a bunch of bad options to me. It should improve reporting of rape (because women know it will never be their word against his unless they want it to be) and improve convictions as well (as you're not trying to push one off incidents and higher reporting should mean serial rapists are more likely to get picked up / get picked up quicker).
struandirk
Posted - 12 February 2018 15:01
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It’s an interesting idea - I’ve not seen anything like it mooted anywhere. I’m skeptical about the practicality and optics (“police to maintain Register of Possible Rapists who haven’t been convicted or even charged or tried for anything”). You should write an editorial or a think piece or something about it..Guardian might publish it
Captain Mal
Posted - 12 February 2018 15:06
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Sadly I'm a thinker not a do-er stru.

But I don't see a decent alternative.

Conviction rates are too low. Lack of anonymity for the accused is wrong.

But I've never seen a suggestion to fix either of those that doesn't make the other worse.
Parsnip
Posted - 12 February 2018 15:08
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If you were accused but innocent would you choose

anonymity and prison time (with protection)
being publicly named and a verdict of "not enough evidence"

assuming you were retired and didnt need to work
Capt Haddock
Posted - 12 February 2018 15:19
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"You solve some of the harm to the wrongly accused by providing anonymity - but that is going to make the conviction rate even lower and I think you need to do something about that. "

I doubt it will lower the conviction rate. At the moment the modus is that get a guy in on first complaint (without going through the merits), splash his name across the board, get more women (and more women do turn up if a guy is a celebrity of sort) and then build a case.

The alternative is to achieve one conviction or if you have two or three or four all coming in at the same time by all means build a case on all four but give the anonymity under the first conviction. Once the first conviction is in place publicise and bring in more credible cases and add to the existing one. By all means change the laws that says multiple convictions will mean serving each one after the other and not concurrently (which is an issue in the Warboy case) but get the first conviction. This makes sure that the police actually will have to do proper work - this is not a civil matter working on balance of probabilities. this is criminal case with real consequences for those accused and nothing for the vexatious complainant.

That barrister's case of using rape laws to secure anonymity was a slap in the face of every argument that rape laws should protect women.
KingMup
Posted - 12 February 2018 15:20
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The police are institutionally corrupt and not to be trusted in any shape or form.
struandirk
Posted - 12 February 2018 15:25
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Umm KM are you talking about Nigeria or some such perchance?
KingMup
Posted - 12 February 2018 15:30
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Nah, things are probably better vis-à-vis the filth over in the Federal Republic.