Our commitment to tackle rape and serious sexual offences has been strengthened today as part of a national, Government-led scheme.
Launched in 2021 as part of the government’s Rape Review, Operation Soteria is a Home Office funded research and change programme which has developed a new national operating model for the investigation and prosecution of rape and serious sexual assault.
As announced today all Forces in England and Wales will implement this new model.
The initial stages of this collaborative project bought together 19 police forces (including Wiltshire Police) and academics to understand and tackle the challenges seen in rape and serious sexual offences investigations. Following a supported self-assessment, we have been helped to develop a plan which aims to drive systematic and sustainable improvements to rape investigations.
The national model ensures suspect focused investigations, supporting of victims throughout the process as well as delivering more specialist training for officers. Crucial closer working with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will also continue to take place.
Following today’s government announcement, Wiltshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Debs Smith said: “Being one of the 19 forces to take part in the initial conception stages of Operation Soteria enabled us to reflect on how we were carrying out investigations around serious sexual assaults and what improvements were still needed at Wiltshire Police.
“Here in Wiltshire, we have for some time now - before our involvement with Soteria - been making significant inroads to improve the way we investigate rape and serious sexual assaults in addition to improving how we care for, support, and help the victims in each and every case.
“This, along with continuing the work we do with our colleagues at the CPS to address low charge and conviction rates, will ultimately help us bring more offenders to justice.
“Operation Soteria, through the additional Government support and the improved training for our staff, will help us to continue the crucial work we are doing in policing to improve the experiences of victims as well as tightening our grip on suspects and offenders.”
Victims deserve to be believed
Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson said: “Victims of rape and serious sexual assault deserve to be believed, treated with respect and be assured quality, thorough and suspect-focused investigations will be delivered by the police to enable justice to be served.
“Soteria ensures every police force is focused - not only to improve the service victims receive - but to ensure everyone in the criminal justice system is working to improve charge rates and convictions, which have been appallingly low. These principles are perfectly aligned with the priorities within my police and crime plan.
“In Wiltshire, the Force has been making radical, and sustainable, improvements in the way it investigates these crimes – with an amplified victim-centred approach and working closely with criminal justice partners. My office has also doubled its funding for rape and sexual assault victims this year, with £400,000 invested in support services alone.
“Both the Chief Constable and I are determined Wiltshire Police consistently delivers the service its residents want – and deserve – and we are relentless in the pursuit of that.”