Sexual violence prevention campaign launched to keep drinkers safe
Dorset Police has launched a campaign that reminds drinkers to take simple steps to ensure they stay safe on a night out in town centres like Bournemouth and Weymouth.
The campaign aims to prevent alcohol-related rapes and sexual assaults by encouraging people to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime by ensuring they follow personal safety advice.
This advice includes staying with friends and looking after each other, getting a licensed taxi or bus home, not walking home alone or with someone you have only just met and not drinking alcohol to such an extent that it affects your judgement.
The campaign also reminds potential offenders that sex without consent or with someone too drunk to consent constitutes rape.
Posters carrying all of these messages have been put up in town centre pubs, clubs and bars in Bournemouth and Weymouth, the two Dorset Safer Neighbourhood areas with the highest number of night time economy related rape or sexual assault allegations in Dorset last year – 50 and 18 respectively.
As one of the campaign posters states, alcohol featured in the majority of night time economy rape allegations in Dorset last year.
Detective Superintendent Sara Glen said: “We understand that people want to go out drinking and have a good time.
“However, it is so important that people make sure they don’t leave themselves vulnerable by drinking too much, staggering home alone or going home drunk with someone they barely know.
“If you are going out drinking, stay in your group of friends and make sure you get home safely by getting a licensed taxi or a bus.”
The campaign aims to inform people that, in most allegations of rape, victims know their attacker.
Detective Superintendent Glen continued: “Stranger rapes are extremely rare in Dorset. In most allegations of rape, the victim knows their attacker.
“Women in particular need to be aware when they are on a night out that alcohol can affect their decision making, leading to situations in which they become vulnerable.
“Even one of these crimes is too many and we want to ensure that we work with the public to prevent as many as possible.
“If a person drinks to excess and is left unable to give consent, but someone decides to have sex with them, then this is rape. We are asking people to consider the consequences of their actions.
“It is important for people to understand what rape is – and that we will take action if they cross the line.
“If you have been a victim of rape, but have not reported it, please do come forward and tell us.
“We have specially trained officers to support victims of rape and investigate these types of offences.”
The campaign material centres on the use of a yellow warning triangle – which doubles as the lead female character’s dress in the pub and club posters in both town centres.
This yellow triangle is also used on all-weather signs that have been placed on lamp posts in Bournemouth town centre. The signs carry safety messages encouraging revellers not to walk home alone and to make sure they get home safely by using licensed taxis or buses.
This campaign forms part of the Force’s Operation Protect work, which aims to reduce serious and violent crime in Dorset.
In addition to its prevalence in the town centre, Dorset Police will also be working with the universities to get the messages across to students.
Operation Protect training will also be delivered to licensing staff to make them aware of the potential consequences of allowing people to drink to excess.
Inspector Dean O’Connor, Bournemouth Central Neighbourhood Inspector, who has developed the training, said: “This campaign supports our aim of making Bournemouth town centre a safe place for residents and visitors to enjoy.
“It is important that people – whether they are working or drinking in our town centre pubs and clubs – take simple steps to reduce the chances of these crimes happening.
“We work closely with local establishments and use the Safe Bus in the town to help ensure people remain safe. However, the public themselves must take simple steps, like the ones outlined in this campaign, to help ensure they remain safe on a night out.”
Inspector Pete Meteau, Weymouth & Portland Neighbourhood Inspector, said: “These types of offences are rare in Weymouth, but each one is terribly traumatic for the victim.
“If we can prevent them by ensuring our pub and club goers understand and adhere to these campaign messages then even more people can enjoy the excellent night time economy provided by Weymouth.”