County campaign to highlight consequences of rape and serious sexual assault

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A new campaign to highlight the consequences of rape and serious sexual assault is being launched this week.

Northamptonshire Police and the Northamptonshire Rape and Incest Crisis Centre (NRICC) are working together to raise awareness of sexual crime and, in particular, highlight the consequences of committing a serious sexual offence to offenders and potential offenders.

Primarily targeting young men aged 18 to 30, the campaign aims to educate those who may not fully realise the implications of their actions, as well as spell out the serious consequences of committing such an offence.

The ‘Rape Ruins Lives’ campaign delivers the message that just because someone has been drinking, is dressed in a certain way and may have already engaged in some level of intimacy, such as kissing, if they don’t actively consent to sex, it’s rape.

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said: “This campaign clearly puts the victim first offering the help and support they require.

“Proper protection and support for victims of crime is fundamental to my vision of a reformed criminal justice system.

“Victims of crime must be able to rely on swift, sure justice which punishes offenders properly, and on intelligent justice which demands that offenders face up to the causes of their behaviour, protecting future victims from similar trauma.”

The campaign supports the aims of Operation Challenge, Northamptonshire Police’s dedicated initiative to reduce violent crime and protect communities from harm.

Detective Inspector Helen Knight, from the force’s Protecting Vulnerable People unit, believes young men may not fully understand what constitutes rape, particularly where alcohol is involved.

She said: “A person can only consent to have sex if they agree by choice and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

“Just because someone doesn’t say ‘no’ or physically try to resist, it doesn’t mean they are saying yes to sex.

“Many young men don’t seem to realise that if someone is excessively drunk – too drunk to know what they are doing – then they cannot consent to sex.

“If there’s any question over whether someone has drunk too much to give consent, assume they haven’t given it.

“If they haven’t consented and you still have sex with them, it’s rape – and this has serious consequences.

“As well as a lengthy prison sentence and being placed on the sex offender register, a conviction for rape or any other crime can place significant restrictions on career choices, severely affect job prospects and limit overseas travel. In other words, it’s life-changing.”

Rape can be life-changing for the victim too and it’s important that anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault gets support.

Northamptonshire Police will thoroughly investigate all incidents of rape and sexual assault reported to them.

However, going to the police isn’t the only option and there are other organisations that can provide advice and support, whether or not the victim decides to report it the police.

The Northamptonshire Rape and Incest Crisis Centre (NRICC) is one of the organisations in the county which offers support to victims of sexual crime.

NRICC manager Dawn Thomas said: “Rape and sexual assault has a massive impact on the victim and it’s important that they get help and support through this difficult time.

“Whilst our campaign is primarily focused on female victims and male offenders, we know that rape can happen to both men and women, and the NRICC is there to help anyone who needs it.

“If someone wants to report it to the police we will support them, but it’s not the most important thing and if they don’t want to do that, there are other organisations, such as the NRICC, who can help people explore their options and provide the guidance, counselling and support they need.

Police officers and NRICC volunteers will be encouraging pubs, clubs and other organisations to get involved and display posters featuring the key messages; a video clip telling the story of a night out that took a turn for the worse will be promoted through social media; information leaflets will be given out at engagement events taking place during December and the campaign website, www.raperuinslives.co.uk, provides advice and information for victims.

The Rape Ruins Lives campaign is part of a wider partnership initiative with Serenity, the county’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), which is running a campaign to encourage victims of rape and sexual assault to come forward and talk to specialist staff about what has happened.

Anyone who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault can report it to Northamptonshire Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

There are a range of services available, which offer support and advice, including:

Rape & Incest Crisis Centre (NRICC)

01604 250721

www.nricc.com

Providing confidential advice on rape, incest and sexual abuse

Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Serenity)

01604 601713

www.serenitynorthants.co.uk

Providing a sensitive and confidential service to anyone in Northamptonshire who has been a victim of rape or serious sexual assault

Victim Support

0845 30 30 900

www.victimsupport.org

A national charity giving free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, family and friends