Mobile companies are soliciting rape victims whose phones have been retained by police as evidence during lengthy criminal investigations.
Victims of such violence are being forced to spend much money on devices that are in the hands of investigators as support groups demand urgent action to halt the billing.
One woman named Emma supported by Rape Crisis Scotland had two mobile phones taken by Police Scotland in spring 2014, but the trial for her case was not held until July 2018.
Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said that, although phones are often returned in an acceptable time frame, some survivors have had devices held for months, sometimes years.
She added: “There are several key issues here: first is the practical inconvenience of suddenly being without a device that most of us rely on every day for our calendar, our contacts, our communication and more – with no guarantee or even reliable estimation as to when it will be returned.
Emma, not her real name, told police her ex-boyfriend had raped her in May 2018 but since then has been forced to pay monthly bills for a phone she bought him, despite the device being seized by police and held during the investigation.
She had actually a recording of her molestation, fully recorded on her phone, so the police took her phone but gave me it straight back the next day.
But She had confirmed that she bought her ex a phone five months before and was paying for that too. After he molested her, it was seized by the police, but initially, it was her phone. More than a year later, She still doesn’t have that phone back.
The trial took about 11 months to get to court but the police told her: “Don’t worry, as soon as the trial is finished, you’ll get the phone back.” The rape charge was found not proven but he was convicted of stalking me and other offenses. As soon as the trial finished, She phoned up and said: “Could I please get my phone back” and was told I had to wait until sentencing – and that was deferred for another 10 weeks.