The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her commitment and dedication to improving the policing response to rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO).
Sarah Crew, who was appointed as the first female Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police in November 2021, said she was “honoured and humbled” to be awarded a Queen’s Police Medal, especially in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year.
Sarah holds the position of national policing lead for RASSO at the National Police Chief’s Council, and in the citation for the honour she was called “an inclusive, caring and victim-focussed leader”.
In 2009, she played an instrumental role in negotiating the creation of The Bridge Sexual Assault Referral Centre, which supports more than 400 rape and sexual assault survivors every year.
In 2010, she founded Operation Bluestone in Bristol – a multi-agency approach to RASSO offences, which in its first year resulted in detection rates improving by a quarter, and the rate of victims declining to prosecute falling by 38 per cent.
This work was pivotal in preventing offences and improving under-reporting from groups including sex workers and BAME communities. She was awarded a Certificate of Merit for this work in 2011, in the Home Office Tilly Awards.
In June 2021, Sarah built on her national role with the launch of an evidence-based approach to investigating RASSO offences, called Project Bluestone. This pioneering project was developed in partnership with leading academics and in consultation with partners across the criminal justice system, as well as victim services.
Avon and Somerset Police was at the helm of implementing this pilot project, with the outcomes and findings now informing a national change in the policing approach to RASSO offences.
In addition, the Queen’s Police Medal is in recognition of work Sarah has led on programmes to improve policing in Avon and Somerset, including the rollout of a £12m technology project which saw officers equipped with 3,000 body worn cameras, 3,500 laptops and 5,000 mobile phones, along with wi-fi equipped vehicles.
Sarah has also worked tirelessly to build links between the police and communities, with the citation highlighting her ongoing role as Chair of Trustees for The Wheels Project, which focuses on crime prevention and offering life skills and practical training to socially excluded teenagers, who may be struggling with their academic studies or who have low attendance levels.
Sarah said: “Receiving such recognition is truly humbling. The fact that it is Platinum Jubilee year makes it even more so.
“In truth, this award is a mark of the dedicated work of many people over many years, fellow officers and staff as well as colleagues in other organisations, in the voluntary sector and in our communities. I am honoured to accept it on their behalf and because it gives me the opportunity to bring to wider attention their selfless efforts and achievements in the service of others.
“I say thank you and pay tribute to the fantastic people with whom I have had the privilege to work on some truly transformational and life changing projects.”