LimeCulture delivers ‘trauma informed’ training to Police Rape Investigation Team

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, LimeCulture delivered specialist training to officers from Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Rape Investigation Team.

LimeCulture has developed ‘A trauma-informed approach to rape investigations’, which is specialist training designed to help police better understand victims/survivor responses to traumatic experiences, such as rape, and how individuals’ reactions may impact on the police investigation and the willingness of the victim/survivor to remain engaged with the criminal justice process.

The number of people who make a report of rape (and other serious sexual offences) has significantly increased over the last few years, however, despite these increases, there has been a significant decrease in the number of rapists brought to justice. Quite rightly, there is now increased scrutiny on the investigation and prosecution of rape and serious sexual offence (RASSO) cases with the Government making a commitment in the End-to-End Rape Review to make various changes across the system to an attempt to achieve better criminal justice outcomes for victims/survivors.

As such, there are high expectations on the police to make improvements to the way they investigate these sensitive and challenging cases. The Police are increasingly having to review their practices, in terms of response and investigative processes and procedures in an attempt to make the necessary changes. Recognising they are one piece of the jigsaw in the criminal justice journey for the victim/survivor, they also need to look at how they work across the system, with partners and other agencies, to better support victims/survivors.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary Rape Investigation Team have already started this work to identify what more they can do to improve their response to victims/survivors of rape, which included commissioning further specialist training for their officers.

Bernie Ryan, Director of Training at LimeCulture said:

‘We were delighted when Cambridgeshire Police’s Rape Investigation Team contacted us to explore how we might support them in better understanding the issues that victim/survivors face when reporting to the police and seeking justice. We discussed how a trauma-informed approach to investigations could improve the victim/survivor experience. They are clearly committed to looking at the way they investigate rape cases in order to make positive changes” 

In order to develop the specialist training, LimeCulture worked closely with the Rape Investigation Team to determine our training approach to ensure the content and material could meet the needs of their officers to help them to understanding how individuals might respond to a traumatic experience, such as rape, and to help officers to better meet their individual needs.

Following discussions with the police, LimeCulture designed the training to allow for exploration and challenge of conscious and unconscious bias, rape myths and culture and how a lack of understanding of a trauma informed approach can impact on the experience of the victim/survivor in the criminal justice process.

Effective communication is the golden thread that runs through this specialist training and includes how communication styles can be used, adapted and encouraged to support victims/survivors and also to challenge unacceptable beliefs, behaviours and attitudes in colleagues.

The training was also designed to explain the different phases of trauma that might be experienced by a victims/survivor in the aftermath of a rape. The officers considered the impact of their role in different periods of time throughout the investigation and how this might impact, positively and negatively, on the victim/survivor. A key focus of the training was the importance of other partners such as the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and the ISVA service, and the crucial role they have in supporting the victims/survivors throughout and beyond the investigation period.

Bernie Ryan said:

“It’s obvious that the officers in the Rape Investigation Team are all working extraordinarily hard, under challenging circumstances and with high numbers of cases to investigate. So, this training provided a fantastic opportunity to take the time out to focus on the impact of vicarious trauma and the importance of self-care for those officers working on sensitive and sometimes very difficult cases, such as rape’ 

“We were hugely impressed by the officers’ willingness to engage with the training. They talked openly and honestly and were willing to share their experiences and reflections of when they’d got it right, but also when they could have done things differently.’

DCI Sherrie Nash said:

“Cambridgeshire Constabulary is committed to improving responses to Rape Investigation. A critical aspect of our strategy is supporting our workforce to develop their investigative mindset alongside understanding and responding to the impact on their own wellbeing.  Working with LimeCulture has been seamless right from the initial development stage through to the delivery phase. The training fully complimented procedural change being embedded within the team and was delivered in an energetic, thought-provoking and respectful manner. 

Bernie really engaged the officers through both evidence led content and, crucially, her own professional experience. She facilitated some lively discussion and debate which acknowledged the challenges the officers face daily but providing an alternative perspective to understand the impact of trauma on survivors.  Feedback from the team has been really positive with each officer identifying changes they will make to their own practices.  Thematically, the training will also assist in the ongoing strategic vision not only within the Constabulary but also across the multiagency partnership”

If you would like to find out more about LimeCulture’s specialist training ‘A trauma-informed approach to police investigation’ please contact us via email or complete the below contact page and we’ll get in touch with you!