Findings from Operation Soteria Bluestone, a report launched in 2021 as a response to the government End-to-End Rape Review, have revealed several areas that urgently need addressing in the investigations of rape and other sexual offences (RAOSO).
The report has been published as part of the Home Office’s pledge to increase the number of rape cases making it to court.
Key findings from the report include:
Dr Emma Williams, Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships in the Centre for Police Research and Learning at The Open University, is the research lead for ‘pillar four’ which focused on the areas of Learning and Development and Officer Well-Being.
If the findings in our report are now used to drive transformational change, it will not only benefit the victims of these horrific crimes and improve outcomes for all RAOSO cases, but it could be used to provide evidence based best-practice to give officers the specialist knowledge they need to do their job effectively.Dr Emma Williams
Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships
Approximately 500 police officers were surveyed across four forces – known as ‘Pathfinder Forces’.
The aim of pillar four was to understand where there were limitations to learning in the field of RAOSO, the extent to which officers were equipped with specialist knowledge, to understand the drivers of welfare issues for RAOSO investigators and to explore the support for the welfare needs of investigators.
Although the findings themselves appear to paint a bleak picture, research found that officers were overwhelmingly committed to doing the best for victims, often prioritising it above their own well-being.
There is also a clear appetite from investigators and police staff in this area to address the gaps, with 90% of officers who responded to the survey stating they would like to participate in learning and development if the opportunities were available.
The research and change programme is unique in policing. It has given teams of academic researchers unprecedented access to police data enabling them to form a holistic, nuanced picture of how forces tackle rape and other sexual offending. Academics will now work alongside police on evidence-based solutions to achieve the transformative change required to improve the police response to rape and sexual offences
The full report can be found online.