“Focusing on the behaviour of the suspect” and “challenging victim-blaming language” are among the ways Cambridgeshire Constabulary says it’s trying to improve the outcomes of investigations into rape and sexual assault.  

The force says that it aims to bring this ethos to “all communications and engagement with the public” and is seeking feedback from victims about their experiences reporting sex offences to police to further inform its approach.  

Police forces across the country have been asked to transform the way they investigate these offences as part of Operation Soteria, a government-funded research and change programme which was launched earlier this year.  

Cambridgeshire Constabulary, which also serves Peterborough, launched Project Eleos in response, which it says means taking a “trauma-informed approach” to speaking to victims and putting them “at the heart” of its investigations.  

It also says that new technology has allowed it to improve its “digital forensics”, essentially meaning that victims’ phones can be returned to them more quickly after being taken in for evidence-gathering and that it’s improving its use of restraining orders to manage potential risks from perpetrators.  

Another possible part of the operation, currently at an early stage, entails training people who work as part of the “night-time economy” – such as bouncers and taxi drivers – to spot the signs of predatory behaviour.  

A report on Cambridgeshire police’s response to Operation Soteria says that, over the last year, the county has recorded the highest percentage of adult rape convictions in the country, at 77.8 per cent.  

But detection rates remain extremely low, in Cambridgeshire and nationally. The report continues that “the rape detection rate in September was 8 per centand the rolling average as of November 6th is 6.2 per cent”. 

“This is an improving position but still a cause of concern amongst criminal justice partners and the public.”