People warned against 'naming and shaming' online as police investigate sexual assaults

Activists are calling out the country's justice system for not properly dealing with sexual assault allegations, leading to the rise of naming and shaming on social media.

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It’s been on the rise lately, and activists are calling out the criminal justice system for not properly dealing with allegations. Source: 1 NEWS

But police and legal experts are warning that such behaviour can harm the wrongly accused and derail potential justice in the long run.

"We ask people to refrain from using social media to name individuals or post any personal details of people suspected of being involved as this could incorrectly and unfairly target the wrong people and also have a negative impact on the police investigation," Wellington Police Detective Inspector John Van Den Heuvel said.

The warning was prompted after some people were wrongly accused when allegations against three Wellington musicians swept social media.

But "naming and shaming" is a growing trend.

Britney Crosgrove, who runs Nope Sisters Clothing — a clothing site that donates to sexual assault survivors — told 1 NEWS she doesn't trust the justice system to get results.

"When you go to the police, everything has to be hush hush and you can't say anything sort of outside of that because of defamation reasons, which I understand in some instances. They're there for a reason. But also that means in the meantime they're still free to roam around without anybody knowing that they're capable of this."

A report last year revealed just 11 per cent of sexual violence reports to police result in a conviction.

Barrister Chris Patterson defended the system, though.

"Look, it's not perfect but it works better than trial by mob," he said, adding that trial by social media could make it more difficult for justice to be served.

"There's a real risk that's run that someone who is charged may not get a fair trial if there's prejudicial information, often false, that's circulating in the public."

People posting unverified claims can face action for defamation, so police are urging people to go to the authorities with complaints instead.