The role of the specially trained officer in rape and sexual offence cases

Lesley McMillan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The specially trained officer (STO) in rape and sexual offence cases performs a vital role in terms of case processing, supporting investigation and providing services directly to the victim of rape. Despite being regarded as a vital part of the post-assault processing of rape cases, STOs have received scant attention in the research literature. This paper outlines the experience and importance of STOs in one English county, and highlights that despite the importance of their role, officers are often poorly supported in the management structure. Individual officers recognise the importance of their role both in terms of victim support and investigation, but report that immediate supervisors do not always share this view, leading to tensions in the process. The findings also indicate the particularly time-consuming nature of ongoing communication with the victim in cases of rape, but the incredible importance of this communication. It is argued that STOs working in tandem with independent sexual violence advisors would alleviate the burden for STOs, and improve communication with the victim, ultimately contributing to a more procedurally just outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-640
Number of pages19
JournalPolicing and Society
Volume25
Issue number6
Early online date6 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • police
  • training
  • criminology

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