Survivors of sexual violence are being invited to share their experience to help police improve the way they deal with victims.
A survey, conducted by academics at City, University of London, was launched this month with the aim of giving Devon & Cornwall Police, alongside other forces, a valuable insight into how the police process feels to victims of rape and other sexual offences.
All responses to the survey, which takes around 15 minutes to complete, are completely anonymous. It is open to anyone over the age of 18 whose case the police know about, whether current or historic.
The results will be used to inform Operation Soteria Bluestone, which is looking into how a number of forces deal with incidents of sexual violence and aims to transform the way police respond to, and investigate, rape and sexual offences.
The questionnaire has been developed over 12 months with input from Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, police officers, survivors, academic experts and the support sector.
It has also been reviewed by survivor focus groups, piloted with survivors by South Wales Police, and undergone cognitive testing with survivors supported by the Safe Link ISVA service in Avon & Somerset.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, funds a number of support services for victims of sexual violence, as well as Sexual Assault Referral Centres and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors.
She appealed to victim-survivors to share their experiences of dealing with the police, adding: “It’s absolutely vital that police officers get it right when dealing with anyone affected by rape and other sexual offences, and this survey will be an invaluable tool in making sure every victim is believed, and treated with respect and dignity.
“It’s also important that any engagement with victims is trauma-informed, so I’m pleased to see this survey has been created with the help of those who have been through similar experiences, alongside support services which are key to helping survivors recover.”
The survey runs until the end of June and can be completed here.
If you have been a victim of sexual violence, whether or not you have reported a crime, you can get help by visiting the Victim Care website, or calling Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111.