Campaign to raise awareness of rape and sexual violence in Suffolk

Rape campaign poster
Rape campaign poster

A campaign aimed at raising awareness of rape and sexual violence in Suffolk is to focus on the importance of consent.

The campaign launches today and, as the Christmas party season approaches, police and partners are emphasising the message that sex without consent is rape.

Detective Superintendent David Cutler, head of protecting vulnerable people for Suffolk Police, said: “Sex should be something that both parties enjoy together and that both participate in willingly.

“Just because a person has flirted with you this is not an invitation to take it further. Unless you know for definite that the person you are with is consenting, my advice to you is don’t have sex. You could find yourself arrested for rape.

“If that person is drunk, don’t take advantage, you must make sure they know what they are agreeing to. This is your responsibility.”

To support the campaign, Suffolk Police’s licensing team will be visiting nightclubs across the county to distribute posters and hand out postcards with the ‘rape is a crime’ message. The team will also be supported by representatives from Suffolk Rape Crisis, who will be raising awareness of the services they can offer.

In Suffolk between April 1 and October 20, 2015, there were 676 serious sexual offences, of which 262 were rapes.

In the same period in 2014, 503 serious sexual offences were recorded, of which 200 rapes were recorded. This shows a 34% increase.

The number of investigators within the Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate, who investigate crimes such as these, has been increased throughout the year to respond to the increased demand in this area.

The police have a dedicated team of specialist trained officers in place to help any victim of rape or sexual assault. The ‘Gemini’ team are committed to providing the best possible service to victims, putting their needs at the centre of any response and will carry out a full investigation following any report.

Det Supt Dave Cutler added: “Victims can often lack confidence in reporting an incident to the police, as they may feel they won’t be believed, or that their claim won’t be investigated. I want to be very clear that rape is not the fault of the victim; it is the person who has sex with them when they have not agreed to it.

“While there are many myths surrounding rape and sexual assault, this crime is rarely committed by a complete stranger. The majority of cases reported to us involve offences committed by someone known to the victim, whether they have met that day or have known each other for longer. A re-occurring theme is ‘I said no’ or ‘I don’t think I could have consented’. Regardless of the situation or circumstances, we will take any allegation of rape extremely seriously and will investigate any rape or sexual assault that is reported to us.”

Lynn Ambrose, manager of The Ferns, Suffolk’s sexual assault referral centre (SARC) said: “I welcome Suffolk Police’s fresh approach in having the emphasis on the person committing the offence and not the victim. There is no room for confusion; if you have sex with someone without their consent, you are culpable.

“We need to make sure that victims of these crimes understand that they are not responsible for these offences. No matter what the situation is, sex without consent is rape. I would urge any victim to contact us so that they can receive help and support from our specialist trained staff, with or without a police investigation.”

Polly Kane, project co-ordinator for Suffolk Rape Crisis, said: “Suffolk Rape Crisis fully supports the constabulary in this campaign, which focuses on those who commit rape and sexual violence, and not innocent women out enjoying themselves this festive season. If someone does not or cannot give clear consent, that is rape, and women should be able to wear what they like, go where they like and enjoy themselves without concern.

“We are independent of the police and women can come to us for help without contacting the police. We’ll be distributing our details with the constabulary’s campaign and anyone needing support is welcome to contact us.”

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I fully support the constabulary in this awareness campaign.

“The message is crystal clear. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone taking advantage of another person. Everyone needs to understand sex without consent is rape.

“There’s lots of support for victims of rape available in the county. Even if you do not want to report it to the police, you can get support from Suffolk Rape Crisis on 0800 0850 520.”

Further information about rape and sexual violence and details of local services available for victims, including The Ferns, can be found at www.suffolk.police.uk

To report a crime to police contact 101, or in an emergency dial 999.