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Christmas Consent Campaign

24th November 2017

‘Sex without consent is rape’ is the Christmas campaign from Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC and Northumbria Police this year.

The Commissioner and T/Chief Constable Winton Keenen will be launching the campaign among party-goers at The Gate in Newcastle on 24 November to raise awareness of the seasonal rise in reported rapes and sexual assaults during the Christmas party period.

Please support the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #MeaningofConsent

Posters and adverts will feature throughout the Northumbria area, with a focus on raising awareness in pubs and clubs.

The campaign aims to educate both men and women on the misconceptions about what rape is and where the boundaries are when it comes to consent.

Commissioner Baird said:

“The crux of the message is not only that ‘no means no’ but that if someone is too drunk to decide whether to say yes or no then anyone having sex with them could find themselves facing a rape charge. Consent can only be given by someone with the capacity to make that decision. It is up to everyone to ensure that consent is given by a sexual partner, on each occasion. If there is doubt about the level of intoxication, the right course of action is not to go ahead.

“So we want to promote that understanding but we also want to raise awareness that there are men out there who deliberately target for sex men or women who are drunk and therefore vulnerable. At any time of year, but particularly at Christmas, friends and colleagues should look out for each other and intervene if they are worried about what is going on.

“However, we intend to send out a clear warning to potential perpetrators of sexual offences, looking to target vulnerable, intoxicated people. If you pick on someone because they have had a drink and you think they will find it more difficult to resist, we will do everything possible to bring you to justice. You must understand that a victim’s drinking, far from being treated as an excuse for what’s happened, will be treated as an aggravating factor that increases the likelihood that you will be charged with rape, found guilty of rape and given a longer prison sentence.”

“I want anyone who is a victim of rape – man or woman – to know that they can seek support from Northumbria Police. I urge victims to continue to seek help either through the force or other organisations like Rape Crisis or Victims First to get the help they will so desperately need to cope and recover from their ordeal. I cannot emphasise it enough that should you report a sexual offence, you will be believed, listened to, supported, and most importantly treated with dignity and respect.”

T/Chief Constable Winton Keenen said: “For too long there have been urban myths around consent. This campaign makes things very clear. While it might seem obvious that having sex without consent is rape, this is sadly often not reflected in the cases we see. We hope everyone enjoys their Christmas night out. However, it’s essential that we all understand what sexual consent really means – and what it doesn’t.”

Sue Pearce, co-CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland said: “We absolutely support this new initiative from Commissioner Vera Baird and the force and their message to would-be perpetrators. At Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland we are keen to let women and girls in our community know that no matter what the circumstance, no means no. It is important that people in our community know if they decide to report a sexual offence that Northumbria Police are there for you and will listen and believe you, but importantly, if you do not decide to report, you can still seek independent support, advice and counselling from Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland.”

For advice on issues around consent visit the Northumbria police website or contact Victims First Northumbria on 0800 011 3116 for specialist support in dealing with a sexual assault or rape.