Thames Valley Police took formal action on just under seven per cent of reported rapes over the last year, the Local Democracy Reporting Service can reveal.

A new drive to change the way police forces investigate rape was rolled out across England and Wales this week. Operation Soteria seeks to implement measures designed to shift investigations’ focus onto suspects’ behaviour rather than victims or survivors.

Figures published by Thames Valley Police show the force took formal action on just 149 of the 2,220 rape cases it recorded between June 2022 and May 2023 – 6.7 per cent.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Bosley, Thames Valley Police’s Head of Rape and Sexual Offences, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the force was seeking to improve its prosecution rate.

He said: “No one in the police is pretending that 6.7 per cent is a good outcome rate. We need to improve that.”

He added: “We are starting to show signs of improvement. We’re seeing much closer cooperation with the Crown Prosecution Service, and much better conviction rates.”

Figures also reveal police in Reading took formal action on 15 reported rapes out of 242 in the same period – 6.1 per cent.

That’s slightly better than in Slough, where the force took action on 10 reported rapes out of 198, and Windsor and Maidenhead, which took formal action on six out of 105 – both just over 5 per cent.

In Bracknell and Wokingham, Thames Valley Police took formal action on 14 reported rapes out of 180 – 7.7 per cent.

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The End Violence Against Women Coalition welcomed Operation Soteria’s aim to shift the focus of rape investigations onto the actions of the suspect. But it said that improving rape prosecutions requires a change in the culture of police forces – including addressing institutional misogyny.

In a statement published on Monday, July 10 – as Soteria was rolled out – coalition director Andrea Simon said: “It still remains the case that the vast majority of rape survivors don’t report to the police, and the majority who do will leave the system altogether due to the barriers to justice they find themselves up against.”

DSI Bosley said it would be “naive” to claim that there were no issues with misogyny in Thames Valley Police. But he added that the force was working internally “to address any misogyny in our offices.”

He added: “If you are a victim of sexual offences please report it to us. We will listen to you and we will investigate.”