Operation Soteria/Bluestone: Re-examining the investigation of Rape and Serious Sexual Offences


Operation Soteria/Bluestone was launched as a response to the Governments End-to-End Rape Review, and the Home Office pledge to increase the number of rape cases ending in a conviction. Op Soteria/Bluestone’s strength lies in the fact that it is a collaborative programme of research between participating police forces and UK universities.

The academic approach was first trialled as Project Bluestone within Avon & Somerset Police, funded by the Home Office. It is the blueprint for Operation Soteria Bluestone with the aim of building a new National Operating Model for the investigation of rape and serious sexual offences.

The project is opening the way for a novel approach to the way scientific evidence is integrated into policing’s strategic thinking, innovative practice and organisational integration of learning and development to improve victim responsiveness, offender challenge and public protection through improved investigation and well-being care for officers and staff. The six pillars for improvement are grounded in what ‘good’ policing practice looks like, which emphasises:

Pillar 1: a suspect-focused investigation

Pillar 2: the disruption of and challenging of repeat offenders

Pillar 3: embedding a systematic procedural justice approach to victim engagement during the investigative process

Pillar 4: an enhanced, specialised officer learning and development programme, sensitive to officer wellbeing joined up seamlessly with the challenges of rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) complaints in force as well as academic evidence drawn from a variety of disciplines

Pillar 5: using data-led, performance-savvy monitoring and evaluation of new investigative strategies and justice outcomes, to improve understanding of RASSO reporting and outcomes

Pillar 6: using an evidence informed, proportionate and transparent digital forensic strategy to improve the victim’s (digital) experience and better inform the overall RASSO investigation 

The research is led by: Professor Betsy Stanko and Dr. Katrin Hohl (City University, London)

The Six Pillars are led by:

  • University of Suffolk (Pillar 1)
  • Bournemouth University (Pillar 2)
  • Durham University, University of Glasgow, and Loughborough University (Pillar 3)
  • London Metropolitan University (Pillar 4)
  • The Open University (Pillar 5)
  • Birkbeck, University of London (Pillar 6)
Project team

Tiggey May, Jessica Jacobson, Nicola Campbell, Samanths Atkinson, Emilly Holtham and Amrana Latif

Home Office

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