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Every police officer in Devon and Cornwall is to recieve specialist training on how to deal with rape victims and deal with being first on the scene.
Our constabulary already has specialist officers trained to cope with rape investigations but often they are not the first point of contact, with normal police and telephone operators often the first people to talk to victims.
To try and fill the gap our police force has created a new training programme, with the help of £25,000 of Home Office Funding.
The computer based e-learning course features interviews with psychologists and 5 different rape scenarios to try and challenge stereotypes of how victims will react. Force Rape Co-ordinator DC Caroline Knight is one of those behind it, "people will expect a rape victim to scream when they are being raped, they will expect them to cry for help immediately and as soon as they've been raped pick up the phone and dial 999 - actually that doesn't happen."
The programme also focusses on the importance of quick and accurate collection of evidence, DC Knight hopes this will have a knock on effect in court, "I'd like it to have a really positive impact on conviction rates that probably the hardest part of dealing with rape investigations, very often there is only two people who know what happened and so trying to investigate that is very challenging."
It ends with a series of questions, which are randomly chosen. An 100% pass rate is demanded.
After being created and trialled here the e-learning programme could be rolled out nationwide. Devon and Cornwall Police Acting Deputy Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said: “We are really pleased to have produced this national training product for use by police forces across the country.
“The training is designed to be undertaken by every police officer and member of police staff who could come into contact with a victim, from initial call handlers and staff in police station reception areas, to senior investigating officers.
“Ultimately, we want all victims to feel more confident about reporting to the police.
“We are determined to ensure that every rape victim in the country feels they have been treated sensitively and with respect.”