SWINDON is being held up as a shining example for dealing with rape cases.

The Government yesterday promised to improve conviction rates in rape cases, by pledging to increase the number of specialist centres for rape victims and set up dedicated teams to investigate rapes.

Swindon is home to one of just 19 centres in the country, but there are hopes to introduce another 17 across the country.

Det Insp Paul Jennings, who oversees all sexual assault cases in Swindon, said: "We do have a team of about 60 specialist Sexual Assault Liaison Officers (Solo).

"They are deployed 24/7 primarily to look after the interests of the victim."

Solo officers guide rape victims through medical examinations at the Sanctuary, the dedicated Sexual Assault Referal Centre (SSARC), at Gablecross.

Officers then support them through court proceedings.

"What we don't have that they want to bring in is dedicated rape investigation teams," said Det Insp Jennings.

"For Category A rape offences, for example a stranger attack in an isolated location of a lone female, the major investigation team would investigate.

"But with most offences of rape they revolve around consent issues, often with partners, husbands and boyfriends or other known acquaintance of the offenders, so it is not as straight forward.

"I would like to see Wiltshire Police move to some sort of rape investigation team, who would be involved in all rape investigations.

"I think this is a really positive move to encourage more convictions."

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said yesterday: "Rape is one of the most serious and devastating crimes.

"We know that it remains under-reported and we are determined to improve this and increase the conviction rate.

"Every force has a responsibility to ensure that every single officer who comes into contact with a rape victim is supportive and believes the victim.

"It may only take the raising of an eyebrow to cause her to lose courage."

Earlier this week women's equality group, the Fawcett Society produced a map showing the postcode lottery experienced by rape victims.

On average only six percent of rapes result in a conviction, but in Wiltshire the number is much higher.

Wiltshire Police see convictions in 8.3 per cent of cases.