Clockwise from left: Wera Hobhouse MP, Insp James Kent, DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) Lorett Spierenburg, D/Supt Ed Yaxley, DCI Rich Marsh, Engagement Officer Sue Graham and DC (Detective Constable) Dan Cunningham
Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse has applauded Operation Bluestone, the new Avon and Somerset Police team set up specifically to address the historically very low charge rates for rape. Charge figures for 2019 were only 3%. The latest figures show that 10% of all reported rapes result in charges.
Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Sarah Crew has led the national efforts for a more effective approach. Key elements of this approach are quicker interviewing of suspects, better data management to prosecute repeat suspects and improved support for victims.
Avon and Somerset Police have played a key role in the national programme, Operation Soteria, which brings together the police service, academics and other partners to improve outcomes for victims of rape and sexual offences. Partnership working has been key to their success so far. They are working hand in hand with the Crown Prosecution Service to address the issues around the prosecution of these crimes to ensure they are doing their very best for victims at every stage of the process. They are also working closely with partners including Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs), safeguarding and healthcare, to provide help and support, always with the mutual aim of achieving the best outcome for victims.
Wera Hobhouse commented:
“Rape is a dreadful crime and it has been a national scandal that the charge rates have been so low. Avon and Somerset Police have shown how, with a dedicated well-resourced team and the right leadership, charge rates can be turned around. I commend Chief Constable Sarah Crew and the Operation Bluestone team for their work in this area.
“An important part of effective justice is that investigation and court delays are kept to a minimum. An additional step forward would be establish specialist rape courts to make a real difference to the expertise and efficiency of justice. The Ministry of Justice is already piloting the specialist concept in three areas. Avon and Somerset Police are supportive of the Ministry of Justice’s work on specialist rape courts and are following it with interest, as will I.”