Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Rape Cash Machine Alarm

Rapes Should Be Reportable Via Cash Machines, Says Leading Conservative

The Debrief: Andrew Boff’s suggestion could be the future of reporting for victims too scared to make a phone call…

The Conservative group leader for the Greater London Assembly has said something about rape that makes us wish he was perhaps someone more important in the party.

Andrew Boff wants cash machines to be used for victims of rape to report the incident safely, because his group claims in a report that 38 rapes a year are going unreported in the capital.

‘Victims of rape often can’t phone or visit the police for fear of being seen or overheard,’ the Evening Standard reports him as saying: ‘But if someone is being controlled and has little time on their own, they could walk into a bank and send a short message on an ATM discreetly and anonymously, and make arrangements to meet police.’

‘With the highest number of rapes in England and Wales, London should lead the way with this cutting-edge technology. I’ll be urging the Mayor to get one of the capital’s high-street banks to update their ATM technology through a sponsorship programme.’

It sounds like a very smart idea (and it’s no wonder Mr Boff is being tipped as a potential mayoral candidate). You see, 85% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, so making reporting discreet would give people in abusive or controlling relationships (and looser defined ‘relationships’) an opportunity to speak out without having to go to a police station or have an officer in their house.

Plus, many rape victims don't report the crime because they fear they won’t be believed, and rapists feel they can get away with it because there’s so little accountability – but if even a machine believes a victim, perhaps wider culture could change.

There are also plans for an app, which can be downloaded to send a brief report and then deleted again, but we’re not sold on that one. It would only cost £50,000 to develop, but the digital footprint left by an app can be hidden in the weirdest places; we still have traces of Angry Birds on our phone that just won’t shake off.

We figure, if the cash machine scheme rolls out in London with a success, it could also make it nationally; between 2012 and 2013, there were 13,874 reported rapes, but it’s believed 55,496 went unreported over the same period.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Tech, Rape