Embedding procedural justice for victim-survivors into police responses to sexual violence  

This three year project aims to improve how police engage with victim-survivors of sexual violence in order to bring about significant improvements in the criminal justice system’s response to rape in England and Wales. 

SCCJR based academics Dr Kelly Johnson (PI), Professor Michele Burman (PI Sep 2023-2024), Dr Oona Brooks-Hay (Co-I) and Dr Ruth Friskney ( Co-I), working with Dr Olivia Smith (Co-I, Loughborough University), Professor Clare McGlynn ( Co-I, Durham University) and a large research team have led ‘Pillar 3’ of Operation Soteria Bluestone: ‘Embedding procedural justice for victim-survivors into police responses to sexual violence workstream.  

Project Description 

The project is funded by the Home Office and has involved working closely with the National Police Chiefs Council, the College of Policing, Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), third-sector stakeholders, victim-survivors and other academics (with Professors Katrin Hohl and Betsy Stanko as the overarching academic leads).  

Over the first year, researchers began examining how police are engaging with victim-survivors in five English forces using a wide range of data including case files, observations of investigations and training, reviews of body worn video footage, video-recorded interviews and forces’ guidance and procedures. In addition, the team consulted with victim-survivors and heard their invaluable testimonies and perspectives on procedural justice. 

In the second year, the project expanded to include a further 14 forces allowing the research team to deepen their understanding of police responses to rape and other sexual offences. Building on this knowledge, the team worked with forces and specialist support services to develop a new National Operation Model (NOM) for the policing of serious sexual offences. 

Now in its third year, the research team are continuing to take forward work to embed victim-centred and procedural justice principles in the NOM.  

Project focus and outputs 

Embedding procedural justice for victim-survivors in police responses to sexual offences is a fundamental part of the NOM and crucial to its success. Procedural justice focuses on how criminal justice processes are experienced rather than on case outcomes alone. The research findings revealed that victim-survivor experiences of going through the criminal justice system are central to their sense of achieving justice.  

The following outputs have been designed by Pillar 3 based on research findings for inclusion into the new police National Operation Model: 

  • Police ISVA MoU Framework 
  • Victim Communication toolkit: 
  • Victim Information Guide 
  • Victim Communication Plan 
  • No Further Action (NFA) Letter Templates 
  • The Rape Victim Impact Assessment (RVIA) Tool 
  • Learning and Accountability Framework for Policing 
  • Procedural Justice Action Plan Project Management Tool 
  • Procedural Justice Police briefing 
  • Trauma and Engaging with Victims Police Briefing 

The outputs are designed to embed procedural justice within police practice by improving their partnerships with specialist support services and the way that they communicate and engage with victim-survivors. 

Research and Policy Briefings 

We have also prepared the following briefings based on our work: 

  • ISVA Co-location Policy Briefing 
  • Body Worn Video use in Sexual Violence Cases Briefing 
  • Digital and Third-Party Materials Briefing 
  • Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) Interviews in Sexual Violence Cases Briefings  

Further Information 

Please contact michele.burman@glasgow.ac.uk or kelly.johnson@glasgow.ac.uk for further information about this project. 

The project started on the 5th September 2021 and will finish at the beginning of September 2024.  

Research Team 

Glasgow University: 

Dr Kelly Johnson (Principal Investigator) 

Professor Michele Burman (Principal Investigator Year 3) 

Dr Oona Brooks-Hay (Co-Investigator) 

Dr Ruth Friskney (Research Associate/Co-Investigator) 

Adrian Harris (Project Co-ordinator) 

Sophie Geoghegan-Fittall (Research Associate) 

Dr Bethany Jennings (Research Associate) 

Amy Cullen (Research Assistant) 

Emily Qvist-Baudry (Research Assistant) 

Loughborough University: 

Dr Olivia Smith (Co-Investigator/Principal Investigator Feb-Sep 2022) 

Dr Susan Hillyard (Research Associate) 

Dr Rosa Walling-Wefelmeyer (Research Associate) 

Durham University: 

Professor Clare McGlynn (Co-Investigator) 

Sarah Molisso (Research Assistant)  

Thanks 

We would like to thank the police officers and staff, and specialist organisations and support service workers who participated in this work. We also want to thank and acknowledge the invaluable contributions from victim-survivors who shared their experiences with us. Thank you also to the whole research team, who have worked incredibly hard to get us to this point. 

Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice

Associated People

Dr Kelly Johnson

University of Glasgow

Prof Michele Burman

University of Glasgow

Dr Oona Brooks-Hay

University of Glasgow

Dr Ruth Friskney

University of Glasgow

Amy Cullen

University of Glasgow

Emily Qvist-Baudry

University of Edinburgh