Contains distressing content.
16 May 2024

Operation Soteria – what happens when rape victims are supported?

Social Affairs Editor and Presenter

Rape is one of the most devastating, traumatic crimes imaginable. And one where the chance of victims getting justice is painfully slim. While no one doubts it is a complex crime to investigate, the collapse of charge and conviction rates prompted the government to launch the 2021 Rape Review.

One stark figure underpinning it all is that only 1.6% of rapes that were reported resulted in someone being charged that same year.

The Prime Minister of the day Boris Johnson apologised to victims and survivors for the failure of the criminal justice system and promised “we are fixing this”.

The pledge was to return to 2016 prosecution numbers. So what happened next? Initially it gets worse.The charge rate at the end of 2021 fell to 1.3%. Then it gets marginally better in 2022. It improves a little again by the end of 2023.

These figures just show cases where there is a charge by the end of that year – they will rise slightly as more investigations end.

Survivors and campaign groups welcome progress but say there is still a very long way to go.

Today the Home Office tells us things are moving ”in the right direction”, with more arrests, more cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service and more prosecutions. That progress, they say, comes from Operation Soteria – a new approach to rape investigations – thousands of officers specially trained, much more focus on the suspect and less on the credibility of the victim.

This is the story of one Sussex Police investigation through the eyes of the victim and the detective constable who helped her get justice.

There are some distressing details from the beginning.