Plans to ask rape victims to hand over their mobile phones could be torn up after a furious backlash from victims and campaigners.
In a major climbdown, police chiefs are reviewing the proposal for a 'digital strip search' allowing detectives to trawl through victims' texts, emails, photos and social media.
It comes five days after the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) launched the 'consent form' giving access to phone data, with guidance telling victims they must hand over their mobiles or risk their attacker going free.
Nick Ephgrave, the NPCC lead for criminal justice, told the Daily Mail he is 'happy to revise' the plan and is meeting policing minister Nick Hurd to review the 'digital device extraction' form.
Victims and campaigners like Carrie Symonds (pictured) have slammed the controversial plans which would allow police to trawl through photos, social media and texts of rape victims
Meanwhile, the NPCC, Crown Prosecution Service and College of Policing have also written to victims' groups asking if improvements can be made to the way investigators handle victims' and witnesses' data.
On Monday, Mr Ephgrave and Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC said a new 'digital extraction' consent form had been signed off by police chiefs to standardise the way officers request mobile phone data from those alleging rape, sexual assault and other offences.
Victims are asked to hand over phones and other digital devices such as laptops, and warned: 'If you refuse permission for the police to investigate, or for the prosecution to disclose material which would enable the defendant to have a fair trial, then it may not be possible for the investigation or prosecution to continue.'
It prompted an avalanche of criticism from MPs and victims who likened it to a 'digital witch hunt'. The former head of Scotland Yard Lord Hogan-Howe said it was a 'backward step' that would deter victims from coming forward.
Nick Ephgrave, the NPCC lead for criminal justice, now says that he is 'happy to revise' the plan
Yesterday Mr Ephgrave, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, said he was listening to victims' concerns, adding: 'We are very happy to revise this.
'We will continue to engage with interested parties to actively consider how it might be improved, although it has been given to forces in its current format.'
A Hollywood actress called on women to join her legal against police yesterday as she revealed that officers dropped her sexual assault claim because she refused to hand over her phone.
The 40-year-old, who is mounting a legal challenge to the new consent forms, claims she was assaulted by a friend on a night out in East London.
When she went to the Metropolitan Police, she was asked for phone and Facebook messages between her and the suspect, which she was happy to provide. But when detectives asked her to hand over her entire phone record she refused.
‘Even criminals do not have to give over their phone to police,’ she said. ‘I was concerned at how information on my phone could be twisted to humiliate and discredit me.’
When her alleged attacker was asked to provide his phone, he refused. Last month officers told her they were closing the case on the basis that she did not want to hand over her entire phone contents.
He said it was 'not dreamt up in a dark room – we consulted with victims'