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Director of Public Prosecutions Calls for Sexual Assault Rethink

The country’s top prosecutor, Alison Saunders, has appealed for women to consider seeking advice from a rape councillor, if they wake up in a man’s bed with no memory of the night before.

Mrs Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, said women who find themselves in this position should consider if they have been a victim of sexual assault and if they require support. Mrs Saunders went on to say that if there is suspicion that an assault has taken place; the police should be contacted immediately. She said:

“Consent has to be given but, equally, there has to be an offence there.

“If they can’t remember what’s happened I might go to a support group and ask for some help and talk it through with somebody.

“If she thinks that there may have been an offence she should certainly talk to the police. We would encourage anyone who has any thought they may have been raped and weren’t capable of consenting to go to the police.

Mrs Saunders’ comments follow the continued struggle by police and prosecutors to increase the number of rapists convicted and to cut the number of sexual offences taking place.

Call for change in law

Earlier this year, Dame Elish Angiolini asked for a change in the law so that women should be able to automatically claim that they were raped if they have sex whilst under the influence of alcohol.

In her report, Dame Angiolini said that a woman should be considered incapable of consenting to sex if she was intoxicated. Dame Angiolini called for the Sexual Offences Act to be amended and for there to be improved clarification of the law where there is alcohol involved.

Top prosecutors concurred with this view, saying that the legal system should recognise certain situations where a person is not able to consent, including when a person is too intoxicated to consent.

Mrs Saunders, during a talk on a BBC show with Victoria Derbyshire, reiterated that her comments were not solely referring to rape by strangers. She added that even within a relationship or even marriage, intercourse without consent is a crime. Mrs Saunders went on to say:

“It’s not for the man to prove his innocence; it’s for us to prove his guilt. We would look at that and see if there’s enough evidence to take it before the court. We would normally look at other evidence of how drunk someone was – if we’ve got CCTV evidence of someone falling out of a nightclub looking incapacitated, for example.”

Past efforts

There have been numerous past efforts to toughen rape laws, most of which have been unsuccessful. Such efforts include a ‘sex breathalyser’, whereby if a person has consumed a certain amount of alcohol, they would be deemed unable to consent to intercourse.

However, Lord Judge ruled in 2007 that it would not be feasible, impossible even, to implement a system that links the amount of alcohol consumed with their capacity to consent. A man convicted of raping a student following one intoxicated evening, saw his conviction quashed after the Court of Appeal ruled that even when drunk, a person is capable of consent.

At present, lawyers ask jurors to use ‘common sense’ when deciding if an accuser was capable or not of consenting to sex, often referencing past rape trials involving intoxicated parties in order to support their case.

Sexual Abuse – Expert Advice

Hampson Hughes Solicitors specialises in directing sexual abuse claims in a considerate and compassionate manner. Our Abuse & Criminal Injuries Department is headed by Greg Neill – Greg is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).

For an open and friendly conversation about your situation, and to find out how we can assist you relevant to your individual experience, call 0800 888 6 888 or email

You will be given the direct-dial of your case handler, meaning that you will always be able to reach the person you need.

Source: Mail Online

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