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About the national operating model

The national operating model for investigating rape and serious sexual offences is designed to support investigations that are victim-centred, suspect-focused and context-led.

First published


Building on the theoretical framework and learning from Project Bluestone and Operation Soteria Bluestone, the model serves as a crucial initiative to transform the police approach to investigating rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO).

Over three years, the collaboration brought leading academics together with senior police officers of all ranks, in consultation with the victim-support sector, to address the shortcomings and improve the justice outcomes in RASSO cases.

Why a new approach to investigating RASSO is needed

Over recent years, there has been an open recognition of failures and poor justice outcomes for victims of sexual offences. 

The Government's End-to-End Rape Review Report on Findings and Actions highlighted these issues and led to a commitment from the Home Office to support the development of a new national operating model for the investigation of rape. 

This new approach to investigating RASSO is an essential first step to significantly and sustainably improve how the police investigate rape and engage with rape victims.

Aims and objectives of the national operating model

There are three aims and seven principles. Each principle details specific objectives and key performance indicators for forces to measure their performance against.

Rollout across England and Wales

The ambition is that all police forces in England and Wales will adopt the national operating model, with appropriate training, guidance and ongoing collaboration between forces and academic experts.

Throughout its development, pathfinder forces have played a pivotal role in testing and refining the model during the initial stages. The insights and experiences gained from these forces, as well as Avon and Somerset Police – where the original Project Bluestone originated – have all contributed to the creation of the national operating model. 

The Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) are establishing a Joint Soteria Unit, supported by the College of Policing. The NPCC component will be hosted in their violence against women and girls taskforce. This will ensure Operation Soteria and the implementation of the national operating model is firmly set within the broader national effort to tackle crimes which disproportionately impact women and girls. 

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