GLOUCESTERSHIRE police is working with academics who are specialists in their field to improve how officers respond and investigate sexual offences.
This is part of the national Operation Soteria Bluestone initiative – a revised approach to investigating rape and serious sexual offences led by the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime that is already seeing encouraging outcomes in other areas.
The Constabulary is one of the new pilot forces to join the latest phase of the initiative, which begins this month (October 2022), making a total of 19 forces participating nationally.
Detective Superintendent Rich Pegler said: “Operation Soteria is an opportunity for us to learn and ensure we are doing absolutely everything we can to identify and convict sexual predators.
“The team are passionate about providing the very best service that they can to victims.
“We currently have a dedicated and specialist Rape and Serious Sexual Offences team, and the work with Operation Soteria Bluestone will help us continue to build on our already strong partnership approach with the Crown Prosecution Service in taking more cases to trial and conviction.”
Head of the Crown Prosecution Service South West’s RASSO team Vicky Gleave said: “Operation Soteria is an ambitious programme that is testing new ways of working to transform how the CPS and police handle rape investigations and prosecutions.
“Its approach is centred on the conduct of the suspect as opposed to the victim, with a strong focus on closer joint working between police and prosecution teams to drive up the number of successful prosecutions across the country.
Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson said: “Rape and sexual offences are some of the most invasive, harmful crimes imaginable, but the conviction rates for these terrible offences need a dramatic improvement if we are to give victims, survivors and the wider public confidence that the whole criminal justice system takes such allegations seriously.
“I hope that by joining Operation Soteria Bluestone we will see a steep change in the capacity and ability of the Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service to deal with rape and serious sexual offences in Gloucestershire.”