New Police Force tool created to improve rape investigations

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Durham University academics from Durham Law School have been involved in the creation of a new Police Force tool to improve rape investigations.

The new Rape Victim Impact Assessment (RVIA) tool was developed by Professor Clare McGlynn and two academics from the University of Glasgow and will help police forces improve services to victims by providing a clear process to support officers and staff to systematically review how police policies and procedures could impact victims.

The tool was developed as part of the UK Home Office funded Operation Soteria, which aims to develop new operating models for the investigation and prosecution of rape in England and Wales.

The RVIA will help to assist the police in prioritising the rights and interests of victims in the criminal justice system, including victims from minoritised and marginalised groups.

The tool also aims to improve transparency and accountability of the police’s decision-making processes, as it advises forces to publish and share their assessments with the local community.

The tool aims to improve transparency and accountability of the police’s decision-making processes

Dr Ruth Friskney, one of the two University of Glasgow academics, alongside Dr Kelly Johnson, who worked on the RVIA tool, commented, “The RVIA expands the existing practice of impact assessments in other fields such as equalities and environmental impact assessments and applies it to the context of rape investigations. It therefore draws on long-standing practice and expertise, now developed for the specific context of rape and policing.” 

According to Professor Clare McGlynn, Durham University, the RVIA tool could have an impact on victim support in other crimes. Professor McGlynn said: “While the RVIA was developed in the specific context of police investigations of rape, it has the potential to be applied across all areas of the criminal justice system. The RVIA provides a flexible, systematic tool to truly put victims – their rights and interests – at the heart of the criminal justice system.” 

Dr Friskney, Professor McGlynn and Dr Johnson continue to work with police forces across England and Wales to explore how the tool is used in practice and how it can be improved to increase its value to forces and victims.

Image: David Martin via Wikimedia Commons

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