TODAY, 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. After being a pilot force for the past two years, South Wales Police will be implementing the National Operating Model, developed through the programme, ensuring investigations are victim-centred, suspect-focused and context-led.
Operation Soteria is a collaborative programme which bought together 19 police forces and academics to understand and tackle the challenges seen in rape and serious sexual offences investigations. Together, officers and academics have developed a new National Operating Model which will be implemented by all police forces in England and Wales.
Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Bacon, said:
“By implementing the National Operating Model, we will better understand the needs of victims and be able to support them. The focus must be on those who commit these crimes, the suspects, in order for us to get the justice that victims want and deserve.
“Operation Soteria is already having a positive impact in South Wales through the many changes we have introduced over the past two years and by signing up to it we are committing to do better for victims. It is vital officers are looked after and given the training they need to deal with these horrific cases.”
Operation Soteria was launched as part of the government’s end-to-end Rape Review (published June 2021). The programme built on Project Bluestone, pioneering work in Avon and Somerset which begun in 2020. In 2021, four further forces, the Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police, Durham Constabulary and the West Midlands Police then joined the programme. In October 2022, a further 14 police forces joined the programme.
Since their involvement in Operation Soteria:
- The volume of charges in Avon and Somerset have more than tripled, rising from 7 charges to 22 charges in October to December 2022.
- The Met have seen a 18% reduction in the volume of cases ending due to victim withdrawal, falling from 743 cases before Soteria to 611 cases in October to December 2022.
- The charge rate in Durham has increased 10 percentage points, rising from 2.6% to 12.6% since their involvement in Operation Soteria
- The number of cases being referred to the CPS by West Midlands has doubled, rising 108% from 26 to 54 cases.
- The volume of cases charged in South Wales has increases 110%, rising from 10 cases before Operation Soteria to 21 cases in October to December 2022.