to ask you if you feel that people accused of sex crimes should have their identities protected?

(81 Posts)
SoleSource Wed 20-Feb-13 12:02:40

This debate was featured on the This Morning programme.

55% of the phone in poll voted yes.
45% voted no.

I would have voted yes because false allegations can destroy lives.

Purple2012 Wed 20-Feb-13 12:07:53

Accused - yes. Convicted - no.

OptimisticPessimist Wed 20-Feb-13 12:09:06

No. I am not necessarily averse to all defendants having anonymity, but I don't think those accused of sex crimes should be singled out in that way. It implies that someone is more likely to be falsely accused of a sex crime than any other crime, which is not true.

megandraper Wed 20-Feb-13 12:16:00

I understand why people would say 'yes' - but one worry I have is that it is common for victims of serial rapists/abusers to begin coming forward when they hear about an accusation - if identities are kept secret, then that would not happen, and would make it harder to convict serial attackers.

SoleSource Wed 20-Feb-13 12:19:20

I feel that if the Police feel the accused may be a serial attacker then the right to anonymity should be wavered.

twofingerstoGideon Wed 20-Feb-13 12:19:49

No. I'm with OptimisticPessimist on this one.

thebody Wed 20-Feb-13 12:21:38

Agree with Sole...

kim147 Wed 20-Feb-13 12:23:01

It would be interesting to know how many victims have come forward as a result of hearing someone has been accused of a sex crime.

sneezingwakesthebaby Wed 20-Feb-13 12:23:15

I would vote no.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 20-Feb-13 12:28:27

I would vote no.

I believe the number of convictions would fall dramatically.
Just imagine if Worboys was still driving around in his cab raping women. It is not exactly easy to convict rapists as things stand.

If we are talking about introducing defendant anonymity we have to do it for all crimes.

Sunnywithshowers Wed 20-Feb-13 12:30:56

I would vote no too.

Yep, I'm with kim and tunip.

False allegations of crime can destroy lives, but two wrongs don't make a right. It doesn't make logical sense to me. It's also worth noting false allegations are a tiny, tiny proportion.

CoalDustWoman Wed 20-Feb-13 12:32:01

No. And I can't believe it's been raised as an issue again.

False accusations of rape are no more prevalent than for other crimes and I believe less so when mistaken identities are excluded.

ItsintheBag Wed 20-Feb-13 12:35:03

Yes those accused should be protected.

But once found guilty should have none.Though I often wonder about their families also victims.

Abra1d Wed 20-Feb-13 12:38:18

Accused should be protected. Convicted, not.

The implications for an innocent man are just devastating. Not just him, his innocent family, too.

TroublesomeEx Wed 20-Feb-13 12:38:26

I don't know.

I would want to vote yes because of the effect on the accused family as much as anything. It would be bad enough as the partner or children of the accused as it is without having the entire country speculating and gossiping about you. And it is different to other crimes, people generally aren't as interested in other crimes as much as they are with sex crimes.

But then I wouldn't want it to have a negative impact on the already low conviction rates of rape, etc.

It would be so much easier for everyone if no one ever made it harder by falsely accusing - then there would be no doubt.

And it would be even easier if all people behaved like decent and civilised human beings and didn't commit sex crimes in the first place. sad

TroublesomeEx Wed 20-Feb-13 12:38:50

But convicted should not be protected at all.

TheChaoGoesMu Wed 20-Feb-13 12:42:47

Accused should be protected.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 20-Feb-13 12:44:41

FolkGirl, even if there were no false accusations ever, some would be invented.
Any rapist who gets off - and that's a lot of rapists - can go around saying he was falsely accused.

That's true, tunip.

An awful lot of people plead not guilty, and I think with every crime, you'll get people (family and friends perhaps) who just can't get their minds around the fact the person they've known and loved did it.

kim147 Wed 20-Feb-13 12:47:13

Do you think that applies to all accused or those who someone has made an allegation against?

If the police catch someone using DNA evidence or CCTV, should that person's name be made public but if someone just accuses someone, should that person be allowed anonymity?

From what I understand, the actual level of false allegations are very low (and I know someone on here posted about the effect of withdrawing an allegation had on her and her family (and she was the victim)).

And rapists are hard enough to catch and convict.

eskthepesk Wed 20-Feb-13 12:48:17

I would say that they should have their identities protected up to when they are formally charged with a criminal offence. My DH was accused with no substance, just malice. It was terrible for us. DH's job involves contact with children, so he may have lost it and been unemployable and I was afraid that SS would get involved and make him move out or threaten us with care proceedings.

As it was it was very quickly shown to be entirely malicious - we know the accuser they were not prosecuted. While saying that a few people got to know about it and while they seem outwardly supportive, I think they still look at DH suspiciously. We were at the local park with my sister and her best friend (who sis had told) recently. DH attempted to help her young DD who was stuck at the top of a slide and she basically screamed at him. It was horrible and I could see the doubt in her face. If he had been accused of theft and it was shown to be malicious I expect people would just have dismissed it, but this sort of crime seems to lead people to assume guilt.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Feb-13 12:48:52

Accused yes completely. If innocent it can ruin many peoples lives.

Convicted - most definitely not.

I don't see how there can be any debate if we want to keep the right of innocence until proven guilty.

runningforthebusinheels Wed 20-Feb-13 12:53:42

I would vote no.

I posted this on another thread on this topic:

Helena Kennedy writes very eloquently on this subject. There are very good reasons why defendants in rape cases are not granted anonymity.

First, no other defendant is granted anonymity. Leading human rights lawyer Harriet Wistrich says:

"Allowing defendants in rape cases, but not those charged with other offences, to remain anonymous would be discriminatory because it would apply almost exclusively to men."

From this article.

It goes on to say Alleged terrorists don't get anonymity, so let's not make rape a special case. Defendants already get quite enough compared to their victims.

Secondly, corroboration is very important when it comes to convicting serial sex offenders. Both in getting a conviction against them in a court, and in getting victims to come forward and report crimes against them.

From the same article: Women who had not previously had the confidence to report a rape were often inspired to do so after seeing media reports naming and picturing the same man, experts said, and allowing the accused to remain anonymous would prevent such breakthroughs.

They also expressed concern that the proposal, which is intended to protect men from the damaging impact of "false allegations", gave the impression that women frequently lie about rape and could put them off coming forward, hitting the already low conviction rate.

Someone else said on the same thread "If this had been in force when John worboys's first victims came forward, he would still be driving around in his cab raping women."

TunipTheVegedude Wed 20-Feb-13 12:54:50

Thing is, if this came in, the main beneficiaries would be the large number of unconvicted actual rapists, plus a tiny number of falsely accused.

So we're talking about stacking things further against the victims and in favour of the rapists, to benefit the innocent falsely accused despite them being so small in number. Obviously it is awful for them..... but it is awful for the victims as well.

StormyBrid Wed 20-Feb-13 12:56:51

Given how low the incidence of false reporting is, and how hard it is to have enough evidence to even prosecute, it's surely statistically very likely that someone accused of sex crimes is guilty? So we're talking about protecting a very, very tiny number of people who've been falsely accused, while making it far more difficult to amass sufficient evidence against serial offenders to actually prosecute them. In other words, protecting a small number of men at the expense of a rather larger number of women.

Of course, if anonymity were to be extended to everyone accused of any crime whatsoever, then it would be a bit different. But it's not, so why should you get special treatment just for committing a sex crime rather than any other sort of crime?

TroublesomeEx Wed 20-Feb-13 12:59:09

FolkGirl, even if there were no false accusations ever, some would be invented.

No, I know. sad

MrsDeVere Wed 20-Feb-13 13:00:05

I just watched it on +1
The lawyer Nick Freeman, came out with some incredibly offensive toss.

Apparently so few rapes go to court because they are not 'the tragic' kind but the date rape kind because they are de rigeur (sp)
So its all just a matter of consent and not really proper rape.

This man is a lawyer. A professional in the justice system.

And he thinks that there is tragic rape and the other kind.

Fucking knob <sue me, knob>

I would say yes but only until a conviction is obtained. If there isn't sufficient evidence to charge it should be kept on file in case of future accusations.

The thing that most people don't consider is that when someone is accused of a sexual crime and their name becomes public it doesn't just affects them. It affects their spouse, their children, their other family. And it can be devastating for these innocent parties.

So its all just a matter of consent and not really proper rape.

But that's what rape is. What a stupid, ill-informed man. I despair.

runningforthebusinheels Wed 20-Feb-13 13:03:33

Mrs Devere - FFS! Did he go through all the rape myths, or just a couple of them ?

What a tosser.

And we wonder why rape myths are so pervasive in society.

ThePlEWhoLovedMe Wed 20-Feb-13 13:14:58

I was accused of a range of sex crimes at work (along with many colleagues) - suspended and investigated by the police. Very pleased our identities were protected.

KellyElly Wed 20-Feb-13 13:15:41

No, either all accused of crime should or none.

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 20-Feb-13 13:16:37

Hmmm torn here. Gut reaction is that anonymous til convicted is fine. Once convicted put the name and picture in every paper in the land! I'm less convinced that merely being accused should merit publicity.

I don't understand why they reckon less women would report though, can this be explained? Also if the person once convicted then had more people come forward to say it happened to me too can't they then be tried on that new crime(s)? Or not? I find this gets confusing. Orzo they meAn a case gets stronger if more come forward at once?

What's odd is I don't feel murderers should get anonymity - not entirely sure why as both heinous crimes.

TroublesomeEx Wed 20-Feb-13 13:18:07

So its all just a matter of consent and not really proper rape

Silly me, I thought that's what rape was. You know, the consent bit.

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 20-Feb-13 13:23:26

If acused identity should be protected.

If evidence is sufficient for charges to be brought then i believe, please correct me if you know factualy this is wrong, it would come up on a future CRB check so its no longer something that could be contained as a secret.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Wed 20-Feb-13 13:26:35

I would vote no.

I think it is worse to be falsely accused of a sex crime than most other types of crime but being accused of being a thief or of committing fraud or being violent does damage your life too and nobody is suggesting that people accused of those crimes be granted anonymity.

1 in 4 women are raped/sexually assaulted but I don't believe 1 in 4 men are rapists. Men who rape, do it over and over and because there is so much emphasis on women lying and false accusations it makes it harder to get a conviction. Anything that helps other women come forward to help a case be built against a man should be encouraged.

Lives are damaged by false accusations but that has to be put in the balance with the lives that are damaged by men being allowed to continue to rape because of the inevitable one persons word against another which typifies prosecutions of men accused where there is a single victim.

OTTMummA Wed 20-Feb-13 13:29:11

This shite again?!
How many is that this week?

Oh, and no, not ever.

SoleSource Wed 20-Feb-13 13:32:25

hmm

no, why should they? murders don't, why do we assume rape vuctims are liars?

Hide the thread then OTT. It's in the news, of course there will be numerous threads discussing it.

sherbetpips Wed 20-Feb-13 13:39:32

I think it something is going to trial then it is going to come out anyway. By that stage enough of a case has been build up agains the person to warrant a formal arrest and charge. What I dont agree with is the naming of every single person the police drag in to interview. Unless they can charge them and take it to court, they shouldnt be allowed to disclose names.

OTTMummA Wed 20-Feb-13 13:40:28

Thank you for that lovely suggestion!
It is a bit concerning to say the least when this topic is bought up again for the 4th/5th time within a couple of days, not always with regards to this news story either. Even more exhastibating is that quite a few posters actually think this is a good idea!
Do any of those posters know how hard it is to get a case put forward for rape at all?
Sorry but we should be finding ways to find it easier and safer for people (manly women and children) to report rape, if you can't se why this would be a massive step forward then god help us all.

OTTMummA Wed 20-Feb-13 13:41:37

step backwards

runningforthebusinheels Wed 20-Feb-13 13:43:15
TheSeniorWrangler Wed 20-Feb-13 13:49:34

If theyve been charged, no.

Until the police have enough evidence to charge someone formally, then they should not be disclosing names.

thezebrawearspurple Wed 20-Feb-13 13:52:03

I support anonymity for both accused and accuser. To be falsely accused of rape is a crime in itself and for an innocent person to be falsely tarnished with that allegation for the rest of their lives even when found not guilty in court (because people, like many on here will believe that he just got away with it) and to experience the abuse and assaults against themselves and their family which come with having that 'reputation', to losing family, friends, becoming a social pariah, losing job prospects and basically having their life forever ruined is unjust.

kim147 Wed 20-Feb-13 13:54:41
Angelfootprints Wed 20-Feb-13 14:00:54

Is this just concerning rape though?

I knew a female teacher of sexually touching a female pupil. The girl made it up, but is was horrific for teacher.

So, say if one of your dc's friends had a sleepover and falsely accused you of a sexual crime against them during the night you would be happy for the whole world to know?

Or what if your dps female colleague falsely accused him of sexual harassment and your families name dragged through the mud despite no crime beimg committed?

kim147 Wed 20-Feb-13 14:12:45

I do think teachers should have anonymity - over half the allegations made against teachers are found to be made up.

But I think that's a separate issue.

SonOfAradia Wed 20-Feb-13 14:20:10

Nick Freeman is certainly a complete knob.

I say no anonymity for people accused of sex crimes. The vast majority of men do not commit rape, but those who are psychologically capable of it rarely do it once - other victims may come forward.

maddening Wed 20-Feb-13 14:23:42

My initial though was yes they should have anonymity until brought to court but having read the thread I say no they should not.

Mrspartacus Wed 20-Feb-13 14:23:45

I know someone who was almost dragged through court, it was a totally horrifc time for him and his family, and most definatly would of cost him his job, relationship, reputation & home. (he works in minor media and rumours would of spread)

It was 6 months of total hell, before court dates started getting mentioned. She then changed her story, and was then left with a story that wouldn't stick, so the police threw out her claims. Then it came to light, that The 'lady' in question had done it before. He told a small circle of his friends, he couldn't tell his family. we all believed him but so many wouldn't of.

It may be a minority of people who falsely accuse, but until you have worn those shoes, you will never know the heartache it causes. Both cases should remain anonymous until proven in court.

It reminds me of ulrika jonsson and her famous autobiography, which made her lots of money, and was the downfall of John Leslie.

I don't think they should be protected, as others may come forward.

thezebrawearspurple Wed 20-Feb-13 14:29:02

Really kim, over half of allegations against teachers are made up? Why should teachers be the only ones protected from false allegations, surely the pupils lying about them are also at risk of lying about every other adult unfortunate enough to come into contact with them? How do we know they won't continue to lie into adulthood?

This is precisely why the accused should have anonymity, you couldn't bring someone up to court for distributing heroin, arms dealing or bomb without any evidence, just the word of someone who claims to have seen them do it, but with sex allegations a word is all that is needed to permanently destroy an innocent persons life (and that of their family).

kim147 Wed 20-Feb-13 14:34:48
thezebrawearspurple Wed 20-Feb-13 14:36:48

Thanks for the link, must be awful for them.

TroublesomeEx Wed 20-Feb-13 14:54:54

thezebra quite often school pupils will say something about a teacher as a way of 'getting back at them' or punishing them for something they are angry with them for, imagining that the teacher will get hauled into the HT's office and receive a telling off.

They have no idea that, due to the nature of the allegations, these sort of lies set balls rolling that the pupils didn't even know existed. Later they worry that owning up will get them into trouble and they imagine that eventually the whole thing will just die down. These lies take on a life of their own and destroy teachers' lives.

The relationship pupils have with their teachers are unique and mean that the children are unlikely to make similar allegations about other adults with whom they come into contact.

cory Wed 20-Feb-13 15:07:39

It would of course be possible to grant all defendants anonymity. When I grew up in Sweden there was a gentleman's agreement among journalists that no names would be published until after the verdict in any criminal case, so defendants were always referred to as "the 46yo" or "the 52yo".

Lockedout434 Wed 20-Feb-13 15:40:31

I think this keeps coming up now as the savile investigations are getting higher and higher in the chain of government and judiciary quite a few people want their tracks hidden. They are putting this out to gauge public opinion and laying the ground work to try and change the ground swell of opinion.

If the accused are anonymous then a serial rapist has a better chance of denying the one charge. especially an upstanding middle class one The witness gets called a fantasist and a liar, vindictive and doing it for publicity oh and the money. The accused has a better chance against one but if there is shown to be a pattern of behaviour it's harder to prove.

Lockedout434 Wed 20-Feb-13 15:41:40

That they are liars and rapists.

Tut awful iPod

quoteunquote Wed 20-Feb-13 15:43:12

No, because I have seen countless times, people up on charges totally denying the charges, putting the victim through further unnecessary stress, total additional abuse, situations where as with most child abuse, it is their word against the attacker, it takes a huge amount of courage to come forward and help form a case, that will be taken forward,

and then when the name goes out, suddenly others come forward, and the victim is believed, and if enough come forward, the defendant changes their plea and the victims are spared being put through the hell of court, and having to relive their nightmare,

Sexual abuse steals your whole life, once someone has inflicted that on you, you live it forever, it affect everything.

There is a huge rate of abuse going on, and a tiny amount being successfully prosecuted.

It often takes one person to come forward, for others to find the courage to also step up,

Sexual abusers rely on isolating their victims, to grant anonymity will help them conceal their behaviour.

We need to break the cycle of abuse, we are not a civilised society until we do, it is shameful we seem unable to have a safe community.

how would it work anyway? The defendant would be granted anonymity, and then as soon as they spot their name being banned about on the internet, declare that the anonymity had been breached, so the case would be dropped, it can't work , unless we stop even bothering to try to bring some justice to these situations.

When people reach the moment when they report abuse, they find they open a flood gate in themselves, to not allow them to speak freely about their experience, would be very cruel, downright dangerous and be a further abuse on them.

Goodtalkingtoo Wed 20-Feb-13 16:09:59

I think everyone for any crime should have anonymity, being accused of any crime falsely, when made public ruins lives not just sex crimes

BenjaminButton172 Wed 20-Feb-13 16:11:21

I think there should be some sort of protection for anyone accused of a crime. No matter what that crime is. How many times has someone's picture been spread across newspapers with untrue stories made up about them?

kim147 Wed 20-Feb-13 17:19:42

The law states innocent until proved guilty. Unfortunately the media don't often see it like that and nor do certain people. Even when someone is found innocent.

The onus should be on people to treat someone as innocent until found guilty.
But that's not easy.

It's important though that people are believed and the cycle is broken as it encourages people to come forward.

valiumredhead Wed 20-Feb-13 17:27:23

I agree Sole.

MissAliceBand Wed 20-Feb-13 17:55:29

I would say that they should have their identities protected up to when they are formally charged with a criminal offence.

I think this is a happy medium, early enough that other victims can come forward before trial to help build cases against serials. Late enough to avoid the 'no smoke without fire' morons and tabloid idiocy that befall people who are foolish enough hmm to get themselves arrested and then released without charge.

I do think that should apply to all crimes though, and that journalists and idiot members of the public who go out of their way to publish names of people arrested and not charges should face charges of their own.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Feb-13 18:13:10

Yes, definitely.

It makes no difference if there are no more people falsely accused of sexually violent crimes than there are of other crimes. A false accusation of rape does a lot more harm to a person emotionally, professionally and personally than a false accusation of burglary.

Even if there is only a tiny number of people whose lives have been destroyed through false accusations of rape, that still means some people have had their lives destroyed by it, and those people deserve to be protected by law as much as anyone else.

I don't give any weight at all to the argument that more victims might come forward if an allegation is made public. A victim has a responsibility to report a crime at the time it happens, and if they choose not to, as is their right, then that is down to them. If victims were encouraged to come forward at the time of the crime and were able to be reassured that as victims they would be treated well, then that would do much more to secure conviction rates than allowing accusations to become public would do.

Saralyn Wed 20-Feb-13 18:15:50

The problem with identifying the accused is that then it is often impossible for the media to describe their relationship to the victim, because the victim would then also be identified.

This means than the media will name Mr Smith, and say that the victim was an 8 year old girl, but not explain that the girl was his niece.

If the accused was not identified, the media could report that a man han had molested his niece. This is how it is done in my country.

The problem with the british system as it is today is that people who read newspapers don't realise how many of these crimes are committee by friends/ family members.

I believe this is one of the reasons why there is such a strong fear of attacks by strangers in the UK, people think this is the norm.

I guess this is mostly is cases involving children, though. How is it done if Mr Smith is accused of raping his ex-girlfriend and identified in the papers, wont everybody then find out who the victim is as well?

strawberryswing Wed 20-Feb-13 19:28:37

Imo both parties should remain anonoymous until a guilty verdict has been reached, though I think this should be the case for all crimes. I dont feel that theres anything to achieve by naming someone when it has not been proved that they've comitted any crime.

I assume the people saying the defendant should be named would be quite happy to have their name banded round the media accused of such crimes if they were innocent? Because I certainly wouldn't.

TheFallenNinja Wed 20-Feb-13 19:34:05

Accused - no. Convicted should have full page photo in all newspapers.

Domjolly Wed 20-Feb-13 19:48:55

Incconet until porven guilty and espically when it comes to crimes involving children even if your cleared people never really belive you didnt do it

So until found guilty i think you should not be exposed also vigilantes and mistaken id

When the lady who got killed in those falts they id the landlord and as usuall you got all the loavals saying "og we always knew he was strange" it wasnt him And it ruined his life he had to sell the flats ect

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 20-Feb-13 20:14:02

I think when its decided that there is enough evidence to charge or go to court then you should be treated like any other person in that suituation so no.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 20-Feb-13 20:33:46

The problem is that if you are arguing for defendant anonymity in rape cases you are basically arguing for more rapes.

The very small number of serial rapists who are successfully prosecuted will drop even further and they will be free to carry on.
I wonder what number Worboys would have got up to by now.

worridmum Wed 20-Feb-13 20:53:18

I know someone who was falsely accused of rape his life was totally ruined so I voted yes and belive until our society can trust of justice system 100% there identies should be hidden as there are to many idiots out there that belive no smoke without fire rubbish.

and yes the damage to innocencant mens lives is a issue my DB who was accused of rape by a vandictive work partner (so she could assume control of the whole company) destoryed his reputation, even after she was convicted of preverting the cause of justice (got a bloody suspended sentace ffs such crap but thats a argument for another thread) was still honded by morons thinking he just got away with it crap and tried to take his own life because of the abuse. Basically with sex crimes the mud sticks and its nearly impossable to remove and god help you if you cant afford to leave the area as everyone will know and your life is ruined.

I belive if there is no protection for the accused intil found guilty I belive that if the algiations are found false the accuser should have their anomity removed and then they should get the same sentance as if they themsevles commited the crime of rape because a suspended setnace for ruining someones life just isnt a deterant is it?

thezebrawearspurple Wed 20-Feb-13 21:02:39

Agree with you worridmum, so sorry to hear about your brothersad.

A few days ago I believe no person should be named until found guilty however since reading some posts I have changed my mind on this topic. If naming means more surviors of rape and sexual assault come forwards then there is a strong reason to name.

I was thinking as I read this thread. Would a point score system of who had their man published be better. If say the cps scored those charged on the benefit of releasing there name by:

Criminal history
relationship if any to accuser
Job (in case of highly accused like teachers)
Type allegation
Will it reveal the a victim

Just an idea????

Sorry name not man

Joiningthegang Wed 20-Feb-13 21:49:27

No

Morloth Wed 20-Feb-13 21:50:35

Yes, they should be even after found guilty.

Not because of their right to privacy, who gives a fuck about rapists?

But because of their victim's right to privacy.

Should a survivor get a say in if the media is given details is a thought. For some people having any details or a name/photo in their local newspaper would surely cause more distress maybe?

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