Force signs up to national sexual offences change program
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Yesterday (Monday 10 July), the Home Secretary has announced that all 43 forces in England and Wales have signed up to Operation Soteria, the transformational change program tackling rape and serious sexual offences.
First launched in 2021 as part of the government’s end-to-end Rape Review, Operation Soteria, is a Home Office funded research and change programme, led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. It was developed to understand and tackle the challenges seen in rape and serious sexual offences investigations.
The model will assist forces in becoming more suspect-focused in their investigations and better support victims of rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO).
Chief Constable Rob Nixon from Leicestershire Police said “The role of this model is to allow our officers to take a more dedicated response to being victim led and focused on offenders behaviours to evidence offences”
“Within the force we already have a dedicated RASSO team and are also proud of the services provided through Juniper Lodge, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). The introduction of Operation Soteria will help build on our existing teams and positively help us improve approaches in this area.
“Locally we have taken steps already to review resilience in our RASSO team, understand the victims journey and identify opportunities to build on the new operating model to provide the right support and improve outcomes.”
Chief Constable Nixon added: “We have fully engaged in the process behind Operation Soteria and we will continue our work to improve as a force.”
Leicestershire Police will be embedding the National Operating Model, developed through the programme, ensuring investigations are victim-centred, suspect-focused and context-led.
The first phase of this work involved a series of academic-led deep dives in five ‘pathfinder’ forces. Once a deep dive is complete, the force is supported to reflect on the findings and make improvements to their approach to RASSO.
From September 2022, 14 further ‘expansion’ police forces took forward a self-assessment model developed in close collaboration with the Operation Soteria Bluestone academics. Following a supported self-assessment, these forces have been supported to develop an improvement plan which aims to drive systematic and sustainable improvements to rape investigations.
The Home Office and NPCC are establishing a Joint Unit, which will oversee implementation of the Model, providing support to police forces.