My Guardian comment on Undercover Policing and Rape ...
As a former Police Detective dealing with rape offences against women, men and children, Vera Baird is right – the police are on sticky ground, and it will be of huge interest to many what the courts decide – putting the trauma of the victims to one side, who should always be at the forefront of our minds.
Rape is when X does not consent to the penetration, and Y does not reasonably believe that X consents.
Now, we can say that the women did consent on the face of it from the facts so far – BUT, would they have consented had they known Y was a Police Officer infiltrating them/their group?
I think we know the answer here.
A reasonable belief IS having regard to ALL the circumstances, including any steps Y has taken to ascertain whether X consents.
The question is, did officer Y say to X before penetrating her … “you do know before we have sex that, I’m an undercover Police Officer?”.
Crass it may sound, but let’s get to the finite details of these acts. Did those women give true consent, I say no.
Can a Police Chief be guilty, by way of Vicarious Liability?
I think these cases have only scratched the surface, of what’s to come.
On a final note, comparing a man not disclosing that he is married to specific consent to sex is different. It is a choice he has made then and there, not something pre-planned by the state. They are completely different.
I personally believe in the British Judicial System and have both hope and faith with all the right information and evidence before the judiciary that, the right outcome will be achieved.
Whatever it is, my sympathy is with the women who were duped. Some of them have children, whose father isn’t who they thought he was.