CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – A senior Australian police officer suggested Thursday that a phone app be developed to document sexual consent in an attempt to improve conviction rates in sex crime cases.
New South Wales State Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said dating apps have brought couples together and the same technology could also provide clarity on the issue of consent.
“Technology doesn’t fix everything, but … it plays a huge role in the people you are in right now. I’m just suggesting: is it part of the solution? “Fuller said.
Fuller said the number of reported sexual assaults in Australia’s most populous state was increasing, while a prosecution success rate of just 2% derived from those reports showed the system was failing.
“Consent cannot be implied,” Fuller wrote in the News Corp. “Consent must be active and continuous throughout the sexual encounter.”
Responses to the suggestion of the consent app have been largely negative or skeptical.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian congratulated Fuller for “taking a leadership position by having the conversation” on the issue of sexual assault, but declined to share her thoughts on the app.
Lesley-Anne Ey, an expert at the University of South Australia on harmful sexual behavior involving children, said she didn’t think the app would work.
“I don’t think they are going to interrupt the romance to put details in an app,” Ey told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Catharine Lumby, an ethics and liability specialist at the University of Sydney, described the app as a quick fix that misinterpreted the circumstances of the sexual assaults.
“Basically what we are looking at now is the fact that there is a very small minority of men in this society who are opportunists, who make the decision to sexually assault women,” Lumby said.
“They don’t care where, how or why they do it. They will seize the opportunity and I am sure they are more than capable of manipulating the technology, ”Lumby said.
More than 100,000 women protested at rallies in Australia on Monday demanding justice while denouncing misogyny and dangerous cultures in the workplace.
Public anger erupted after the Australian attorney general denied an allegation that he raped a 16-year-old girl 33 years ago, and a former government staff member alleged that she was raped two years ago by a colleague in Parliament’s office of a minister.
Fuller said his suggestion could gain popularity over time.
“To be honest with you, the app idea might be the worst idea I have in 2021, but the reality is that in five years, it might not be,” he said. “If you think about dating 10 years ago, this concept of single people swiping left and right was a term that we didn’t even know about.”
A consent app similar to Fuller’s proposal was launched in Denmark last month. But the app hasn’t been widely adopted, with fewer than 5,000 downloads, according to mobile intelligence site Sensor Tower.