Men accused of date rape must face police questioning on why they thought women consented, says Britain’s top prosecutor

Men accused of date rape must be quizzed by police over the ‘steps they took’ to establish that a woman agreed to sex, the country’s top prosecutor said yesterday.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said detectives should question a suspect about ‘what assured him’ the alleged victim had consented.

New guidelines would guarantee a ‘more balanced consideration’ of the accounts of both the suspect and the alleged victim, she said.

During a keynote speech in Manchester yesterday, she said: ‘The law states that if a suspect can show that they had reasonable belief that the other party consented then the offence of rape is not made out.

‘Logic dictates that in order to establish what the suspect’s reasonable belief might be then investigators will want to question the suspect on what it was that assured him the sexual activity was consensual.

‘The new toolkits on consent make this clear, highlighting that when considering consent issues, in addition to examining the actions of the complainant, we will also examine the steps taken by a suspect.’

Mrs Saunders spoke out in the wake of the furore over footballer Ched Evans, who was released from prison in October halfway through a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a Welsh hotel. The player has always professed his innocence, saying the sex was consensual, but the woman said she was too drunk to agree.

Last month Mrs Saunders announced a major shake-up of investigations into sex offences and spelled out situations where victims would not be in a position to agree to sex, such as if they were incapacitated through alcohol or drugs or were unconscious or had mental health problems or learning difficulties. At a special conference, she said new guidelines would for the first time move well beyond the idea of ‘no means no’.

Campaigners described the move as a ‘huge step forward’ in ensuring fewer rapists escaped justice. But critics said the measures threatened to shift the burden of proof by moving towards making rape suspects prove they were innocent.

Tory MP Philip Davies said at the time: ‘It is not clear how anyone is supposed to prove that consent was given. Is the CPS really suggesting that you have to get a signed statement off someone before they have sex?’

But, defending the guidelines yesterday, Mrs Saunders insisted she had ‘welcomed’ the furious debate, adding: ‘If the law had changed and the burden of proof for sexual offences now lay with the alleged offender to prove his or her innocence, I would have been among the first to stand up and oppose such a move.

‘I would have agreed that to imply that people must get a time-stamped signature on a bedroom contract before disrobing was not only misguided but utterly unrealistic.’

She also hit out at the findings of research by the Office for National Statistics earlier this month which showed a quarter of the public say that victims of rape or sex attacks are at least ‘a little bit responsible’ if they were drunk at the time.

She said: ‘There are many people who do believe that women who drink are guilty of, at the very least, putting themselves in danger; that a man has a green light to sex unless he is explicitly told “no” or physically pushed away. That is not what the law says.

source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2971369/Men-accused-date-rape-face-police-questioning-thought-women-consented-says-Britain-s-prosecutor.html

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