VAWG & RASSO – Reflections on the journey so far and what comes next

Listen back to hear from leads from the VAWG Taskfroce, Op Soteria, Police Digital Service and industry experts as they discuss the journey of the VAWG and RASSO digital strategic intents, progress and what comes next.

As the 2021/2023 committee tenure comes to a close, our group members discuss and reflect on the last two years, their achievements and suggested next steps.

This video focuses on ‘Tech for Good’, particularly the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) & Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) work, offering reflections on the journey to date and outlining future direction.

Watch the following video to hear from techUK JESMC member, Charlotte Hails (Justice & Policing Lead at Virgin Media O2 Business) as she discusses the journey so far for VAWG and RASSO, and hopes for the future with guests:

  • T/Assistant Chief Constable Samantha Millar, deputy to VAWG NPCC lead DCC Maggie Blyth
  • T/Detective Chief Superintendent Melissa Laremore, Op Soteria Implementation Lead
  • Simon Morris, Programme Director for the Digital Forensics Programme at Police Digital Service
  • Naomi Bolton, former Chief Inspector, now with Cloud Gateway and elected chair of the newly formed VAWG & RASSO working group.

On White Ribbon Day (25th November), the national day for prevention of violence against women and girls (VAWG), Deputy Chief Constable Maggie Blyth emphasized the importance of elevating standards and driving improvement in policing to establish a service that the public trusts.

Encouragingly, there have been positive strides in Policing’s dedication to tackling VAWG & RASSO and improving services for victims. This progress is notably marked by the recent nationwide implementation of Operation Soteria earlier this year. All 43 forces across England and Wales are now adopting a new approach to handling rape and other serious sexual offences.

However, there is still work that needs to be done. The stark reality shows that a woman falls victim to lethal violence by a man every three days in the UK. Domestic abuse further compounds this distressing scenario, constituting 18% of all recorded crime in England and Wales. The gravity of the situation becomes even more pronounced when considering the figures from the year ending March 2022, which recorded a total of 194,683 sexual offences, including 70,330 incidents of rape.

Additionally, the digital realm has become a concerning area, with over 21% of women in the UK having experienced serious abuse and harassment at least once online. These statistics highlight the urgent need to address and combat various forms of violence against women in both physical and virtual spaces.

T/ACC Samantha Millar highlights the progress made over the last two years, especially under Maggie Blyth’s leadership, which has set the sector on a positive path. This progress has not only provided a clearer picture of the current state of policing but has also pinpointed specific areas that need future attention and focus, such as how technology can be utilized to better support victims.

The leadership we have received from Maggie Blyth has allowed us to step forward. We do now have an evidence base in terms of threat risk and harm, we’ve looked across policing and we have started to understand what the internal threat looks like. And this year we will be looking again.

Samantha Millar


Simon Morris emphasizes the necessity to revolutionize the way law enforcement handles digital evidence, explaining that “...we need to transform the way forces can secure, interpret, and present digital evidence."

One of the significant challenges faced is the diversity in information-sharing methods among the 43 police forces. The solution being sought is a nationwide approach to address this issue and streamline services.

The evolving landscape of crime poses a continuous challenge for police officers to stay abreast of changes and adapt to new requirements. The complexity faced by frontline officers has increased significantly, and technology, including the developments in the metaverse, continues to reshape the dynamics of law enforcement.

Technology has both positive and negative aspects. There is an awareness of its adverse impact on issues such as online safety and the rise in online violence against women and girls. Despite these challenges, it's underscored that technology can also have a positive impact by addressing serious sexual crimes and improving overall investigative capabilities.

Using technology to transform the experience of victims is crucial. The real challenge lies in developing the required capabilities.

We have to understand how to support victims of RASSO, so services tailored to their needs can be realised and we build confidence in reporting and prosecuting offences

Simon Morris

Police Digital Service

Operation Soteria revolves around understanding and meeting the needs of victims. The focus is not only on listening to what victims want but also evaluating and improving the overall victim experience and journey. Importantly, Soteria adopts a victim-centred approach, with a commitment to examining suspects' devices to ensure a comprehensive understanding of each case.

We now have the Soteria National Operating Model, which allows us to identify what we needed to change from our year one evidence base, which includes us being more victim centred, suspect focused, and context led

Melissa Laremore

Op Soteria Implementation Lead

When it comes to technology, there are tools available, but the challenge lies in disseminating these solutions to all 43 forces. The question arises: how do we share this information not only within forces but also across partner agencies? Industries hold valuable data, like those from dating apps, which could be beneficial to policing. However, the current enigma is figuring out how to effectively utilize this data within the law enforcement sector.

Regarding future plans, Samantha confirms that "techUK has consistently reached out to us, the police, asking what we need" and we are now on the right path, focusing more on victims of domestic abuse and exploring possibilities for protection and more.

There is still more work that needs to be done to improve the VAWG and RASSO space, and collaboration with private sector and tech industry is essential to achieve that.

As a police officer you have an impression of the private sector, and my initial impression has been wrong. The values and the motivations of the working group are all genuinely because they have a vested interest and want to make a difference

Naomi Bolton

Cloud Gateway

Finally, Charlotte Hails made a call for techUK members to consider the role they can play in addressing and improving wider societal attitudes through the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic abuse and HeForShe.

At techUK we have a VAWG and RASSO working group, a platform for collaboration, to ensure industry is connected and positively impacting real world issues faced by public services. If you would like more information, please contact [email protected].

VAWG and RASSO updates

Sign-up to get the latest updates and opportunities on our work around VAWG and RASSO from our Justice and Emergency Services programme.

For more information please contact: 

Georgie Morgan

Georgie Morgan

Head of Justice and Emergency Services, techUK

Georgie joined techUK as the Justice and Emergency Services (JES) Programme Manager in March 2020, then becoming Head of Programme in January 2022.

Georgie leads techUK's engagement and activity across our blue light and criminal justice services, engaging with industry and stakeholders to unlock innovation, problem solve, future gaze and highlight the vital role technology plays in the delivery of critical public safety and justice services. The JES programme represents suppliers by creating a voice for those who are selling or looking to break into and navigate the blue light and criminal justice markets.

Prior to joining techUK, Georgie spent 4 and a half years managing a Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) in Westminster. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police and London borough councils to prevent and reduce the impact of crime on the business community. Her work ranged from the impact of low-level street crime and anti-social behaviour on the borough, to critical incidents and violent crime.

[email protected]

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Cinzia Miatto

Cinzia Miatto

Programme Manager - Justice & Emergency Services, techUK

Cinzia joined techUK in August 2023 as the Justice and Emergency Services (JES) Programme Manager.

The JES programme represents suppliers, championing their interests in the blue light and criminal justice markets, whether they are established entities or newcomers seeking to establish their presence.

Prior to join techUK, Cinzia held positions within the third and public sectors, managing international and multi-disciplinary projects and funding initiatives. Cinzia has a double MA degree in European Studies from the University of Göttingen (Germany) and the University of Udine (Italy), with a focus on politics and international relations.

[email protected]

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Ella Gago-Brookes

Team Assistant, Markets, techUK

Ella joined techUK in November 2023 as a Markets Team Assistant, supporting the Justice and Emergency Services, Central Government and Financial Services Programmes.  

Before joining the team, she was working at the Magistrates' Courts in legal administration and graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2022.  Ella attained an undergraduate degree in History and Politics, and a master's degree in International Relations and Security Studies, with a particular interest in studying asylum rights and gendered violence.  

In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, watching true crime documentaries, travelling, and making her best attempts to become a better cook.  

[email protected]

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Digital Justice Impact Day 2023

Digitising Justice- slideshow reversed_1500px.jpg

Digitising Justice Impact Day 2023


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