21 September 2023

Survive response to Operation Soteria Bluestone Survey

Results released of national survey into survivor experiences of the police in England and Wales

Survive, a specialist charity that helps survivors of sexual violence rebuild their lives, today responds to the results of a national survey regarding survivor experiences with the police after reporting sexual offences to them. The results, published by City, University of London, cover survivor interactions with 45 police forces – including North Yorkshire Police.

Says Chief Executive Officer Mags Godderidge: “The results of this national survey sadly reflect what Survive hears each day based on our clients’ experiences. Many survivors do not report to the police because of embarrassment or shame; they fear they will not be believed or are dismayed and deterred by the low conviction rates. Many of those brave survivors who do report what happened to them find their interactions with the police re-traumatising and in some cases, more traumatising than the incident or incidents.  This often results in them dropping out of the Criminal Justice System.”

Of the nearly 2000 survivors who responded to the national survey, 75% said their mental health had worsened as consequence of what police did or failed to do and 42% said they did not feel believed. The main reasons respondents gave for reporting to the police were to keep others safe and to ensure perpetrators faced consequences for their actions.

The self-selecting survey also indicated that perpetrators of sexual offences were mostly known to the survivor and were, sometimes, people in a position of trust such as taxi drivers, medical professionals, security guards and even police officers. The survey also highlighted a poor understanding of sexual offending within the police and evidence of police officers perpetuating rape myths.

Says Ms Godderidge: “Survivors want to feel safe and for the perpetrator to understand what they did was wrong and to stop their offending behaviour. Police inaction emboldens perpetrators and creates more victims.

“If survivors are to get justice in the courts, we need a whole system, trauma-informed approach which listens to survivors, shows them kindness and compassion and supports them through the court process. All forces, including North Yorkshire Police, must ensure they have more specialist detectives, more education in trauma-informed practice and more compassion for survivors.”

Back to top

Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive regular updates on how we are helping survivors of sexual trauma rebuild their lives, relationships and reach their potential.