A new video has been launched as part of a campaign to tackle serious sexual crime.
It tells the story of what at first appears to be an ordinary night out for a group of young men and women.
But a few too many drinks in a bar lead to unexpected and unwanted consequences.
The video is part of a campaign between Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Rape and Incest Crisis Centre (NRICC) and Serenity, the county’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), who are working together to raise awareness of sexual crime, highlight the consequences of committing a serious sexual offence and encourage victims of rape and sexual assault to come forward and talk to specialist staff about what has happened.
There are two versions of the video. The first one aims to drive home the message to men that if a woman is too drunk to know what she is doing, she cannot consent to sex – it doesn’t matter that she hasn’t said ‘no’ or physically tried to push them off.
The second version aims to encourage victims to contact Serenity and talk to someone about what has happened. If they then decide to report it to the police, Serenity will help them do this and provide support and advice, but the police do not have to be involved.
Reducing violent and serious sexual crime is a key priority for Northamptonshire Police and the focus of Operation Challenge.
Det Insp Helen Knight said: “The scenario in this video is something we come across all too often but probably happens to many more people.
“We really want to get across the message, to both men and women, that if there’s any question over whether someone has drunk too much to give their consent to have sex, 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.
“Anyone who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault, whatever the situation and whether or not they had been drinking, our plea is to please tell someone.
“You may think the only option is to report it to the police but this isn’t the case. Serenity is an excellent first port of call and the NRICC can also offer advice and counselling.”
Serenity manager Glynis Bliss said: “Rape is a terrible crime that can have severe consequences for victims.
“It’s important that they know where to go for the help and advice they need following an attack.
“Sometimes they also need time to think through what they want to do; by coming to Serenity, which is an NHS facility, they can get the medical and support care they need, but also have forensic evidence taken in case later on they do want to talk to the police. We support them in their choices, what ever they decide.”
As well as the video, police officers and NRICC volunteers are encouraging pubs, clubs and other organisations to get involved by displaying posters, and the key messages are being promoted through social media and on the campaign website, www.raperuinslives.co.uk.
Specialist outreach workers will also be out and about in town centres across the county over the next two weeks, talking to young people to raise awareness of the support services available to victims of sexual assault and to educate people about the consequences of committing such an offence.
Anyone who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault can report it to Northamptonshire Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. In addition, there are a range of services available, which offer support and advice, including:
Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Serenity)
0845 30 30 900
Rape & Incest Crisis Centre (NRICC)