'This is not about victim-blaming.' Rape campaign targets offenders, says Northants Superintendent
Superintendent Dennis Murray has said Northamptonshire Police are running a campaign on sexual assault because "everyone has the right to go out and celebrate".
Supt Murray spoke to the Northants Telegraph about Operation Kayak to combat and raise awareness of sexual assault on nights out.Supt Murray said: "This is not about victim-blaming. It's to make people aware of what offenders may look for.
"Operation Kayak is our response to people who target anyone who may be vulnerable in the nighttime economy."
He said the response to predatory behaviour included an increased police presence to catch those going out with an intention to assault.
Supt Murray said: "Officers will be out and about in high visibility and in plain clothes."
Officers will be looking out for suspicious behaviour and Supt Murray said examples included: "People driving up and down in vehicles looking around, people hanging outside clubs and approaching females and males, people that they see as vulnerable.
"We will be asking them why they are there, what they are doing and will be asking them to leave or using police powers to disperse them."
Supt Murray made it clear the campaign was not about victim-blaming, and the images being shared by the police contain messages like: "Enjoying a few drinks is not a crime...rape is!
"It doesn't matter what they're wearing, how much they've drunk, if you've already kissed...sex without consent is rape."
In a tweet sharing the campaign, Supt Murray said: "Drunk people don't cause rape. Vulnerable people don't cause rape. Rapists cause rape.
"That's why our uniform and plain clothes officers are in the (nighttime economy) giving safety advice to people celebrating and targeting people who may commit sexual offences/other crimes."
Supt Murray said the campaign is designed to make people aware of what they can do to keep themselves safe as well as making it clear rape is a crime.
Examples of things people could do included making sure you get a genuine taxi with friends and reporting anything that makes you uncomfortable to someone who could help, whether that is door staff, the police, street pastors, or going into a shop where someone can contact the police on your behalf.
Supt Murray said raising awareness was about helping people spot suspicious behaviour and asking themselves questions such as: "Is that person with that group, or are they actually with another group?"
He urged people to phone the police if they see anything that makes them uncomfortable or unhappy.
Supt Murray also made it clear that Northamptonshire Police will believe anyone who comes forward and says they are a victim of rape.
Police will investigate any report of sexual assault and work with the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) if there is an offence.
Northamptonshire Police are urging anyone who is assaulted to report it as soon as possible and added: "Even if you’re not 100 per cent sure, we’d sooner hear from you so that we can make sure you’re safe."
You can report an assault to the police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency.