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Devon and Cornwall Police joins Operation Soteria Bluestone

SA Updated
Devon and Cornwall Police joins Operation Soteria Bluestone

Devon and Cornwall Police has joined the expansion programme for Operation Soteria Bluestone, a transformational approach to improve outcomes for rape and sexual offence cases.

Phase two of the project will involve working collaboratively with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS South West), to build on the learning that that has been identified from the five initial pathfinder project areas. The aim is to build improved, thorough and effective investigations and deliver lasting improvements to ensure that victims are supported and that our communities have the confidence that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

This new approach, funded by the Home Office, was first piloted with Avon & Somerset Police at the beginning of 2021, as a response to the government End-to-End Rape Review. Devon & Cornwall Police has benefited already from working closely with colleagues in the region, including building on partnership working with CPS South West.

Detective Superintendent Nicky Seager of Devon & Cornwall Police said: “We are excited to be one of the latest fourteen police forces to join Operation Soteria Bluestone, contributing to developing a new national operating model for stronger and more efficient rape investigations.

“We are also indebted to the pioneering work done by Avon & Somerset Police and our local CPS, who have kept us informed of their learning, the principles of which we have been weaving into our response to rape and serious sexual offences (RaSSO) for some time.

“As an example, we have launched Operation Gemstone, an innovative pilot which started in Plymouth this month to improve the Force's response to RaSSO offences.”

Based upon the findings of the academic research of Soteria Bluestone, Operation Gemstone commenced in Plymouth on 13 June and will run initially for six months. Four teams of investigators, each led by a Detective Sergeant, are providing a specialist response to RaSSO crimes in a significantly different approach to investigative roles, systems and processes. Through this dedicated team the pilot will test the principles of the academic research, with the intention of providing a better service to victims of crime and improved outcomes.

This will be achieved through improved supervision of investigations, better engagement with the Crown Prosecution Service and other partners such as our local Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service provider, First Light. Staff will receive additional development to increase their skills and knowledge in investigating rape and serious sexual offences.

Lisa Cassidy, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West said: “Operation Soteria Bluestone is police and prosecutors working together in a more collaborative way than ever before to improve the experience of those affected by serious sexual offences and to support more rape victims in seeing justice.

“More than that, it is also the beginning of a national model which will enshrine agreed effective collaborative and evidence led working practices which are already starting to have a positive effect, reversing the decline in cases that make it to court.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: “Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is already one of the safest areas of the country, and my aim is to make it even safer.

“In my Police and Crime Plan for 2021-25, I pledged to tackle violence against women and girls in part by continuing to address the causes and consequences of sexual violence.

“The innovative and collaborative approach of Operation Soteria Bluestone will be a cornerstone of policing to achieve this, not least by bringing more offenders to justice and thus reducing the opportunity for them to reoffend.”

The police forces involved in the expansion of Operation Soteria Bluestone are: Devon & Cornwall, Gwent, Dyfed-Powys, North Wales, Northumbria, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Kent, Dorset and Sussex.

www.dc.police.uk/Rape-SexualAssault

In an emergency always call 999
Non-emergency: www.dc.police.uk/contact

National Rape Crisis Helpline: 0808 802 9999
Devon and Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC): 0300 3034626+
Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Independent Sexual Advisor Service: 03458 121212
Victim Care Unit: 01392 475900
Safer Futures - Domestic Abuse Support, Cornwall: 0300 777 4777
The Women’s Centre Cornwall: 01208 77099
Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services: 01392 204 174

 

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