Sex consent app may be ‘worst idea of year’

NSW’s top cop has acknowledged his idea for a sexual consent app to stop assaults could be the ‘worst’ idea of the year.

NSW’s top cop Mick Fuller has acknowledged his proposal for an app to record consent for sex might be “the worst idea” he’s had all year after he was roundly criticised for the plan.

But he says the proposal – to create a smartphone application that romantic partners could use to say yes to sex, in order to combat sexual crimes – could be a conversation-starter and a step on the way to tackle the issue.

Out of nearly 15,000 reports to police about alleged sexual assault, only about 1000 progressed to court and of those less than 400 recorded guilty verdicts, the NSW Police Commissioner said.

“I think it starts the debate. People have mixed emotions on how the app would work. For me, the app keeps people out of the justice system,” Commissioner Fuller told reporters.

After the proposal became known Thursday morning, members of the public quickly pointed out flaws – for example, a person is free to withdraw their consent to sex at any point, whether or not the “yes” was recorded in the app at the beginning of an encounter.

And a person might not necessarily consent to any type of sexual activity just because they said “yes” to sex in general.

“It’s good (NSW Police) is acknowledging the need for affirmative consent, but this isn’t a safe way forward. The abuser can simply coerce the victim to use the app,” tweeted Hayley Foster, chief executive at Women’s Safety NSW, a peak body for services combating violence against women.

She also wrote she was concerned Commissioner Fuller was suggesting “we need to keep people out of the justice system when it comes to sexual assault”.

“If the system’s not working for 98.5 per cent of victims, we need to fix it, not avoid it altogether,” she tweeted.

Commissioner Fuller said the rise in sexual crimes was a big challenge for police.

“Cyber crime is obviously on the increase. Other than that, this is the single crime problem that we are really struggling with,” he said.

Speaking to ABC Radio, Commissioner Fuller said his idea might seem more viable in a few years than it does today.

He compared it to the way dating has changed because of the internet.

“To be honest with you, the app could be the worst idea I have in 2021. But the reality is in five years perhaps it won’t be,” he said.

“If you think of dating 10 years ago, this concept of single people swiping left and right was a term we didn’t even know.”

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