Police campaign warns of rape danger

PUBLISHED: 10:19 06 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

A POWERFUL cinema advertising campaign has been launched by Herts Police as part of a drive to reduce the number of people raped as a result of leaving themselves vulnerable. The film, which targets young women, will be shown from next Saturday (December

A POWERFUL cinema advertising campaign has been launched by Herts Police as part of a drive to reduce the number of people raped as a result of leaving themselves vulnerable.

The film, which targets young women, will be shown from next Saturday (December 12) as the Christmas party season gets underway.

The advert appeals for women to think about keeping themselves safe when out celebrating and to consider the consequences of suffering a serious sexual assault.

In the video - entitled Everything has Changed - a young woman meets a man in a local club and it demonstrates how easy it is for both sexes to misread signals and put themselves at risk.

It also portrays the rapist as an attractive young man who has made a huge mistake rather than the stereotype of someone who jumps out from behind a bush in the dark.

Information posters will also be placed on the back of washroom doors in 26 bars and clubs across the county.

Detective Superintendent Jon Chapman, Herts Police's 'champion' for protecting vulnerable people, said: "Through his campaign we hope to strike a chord with young women and men and help them to consider how their attitudes and behaviour can change when out drinking with friends.

"Excessive drinking can place people in a variety of negative situations that most would never dream of getting into when they have their full wits about them. And as alcohol can cause a person to lose common sense when it comes to personal safety, people can be more at risk of being victims of sexual assaults and rape.

"In fact, studies have revealed that in 81 per cent of rape and sexual assault cases, the victim had been drinking before the assault took place."

The initiative is the start of a series of campaigns by the newly formed Constabulary Rape Reduction Programme Board, whose members include the county council.

The police are also aiming to further improve victim care and bring more offenders to justice with their dedicated Sexual Offences Investigation Team (SOIT) which was launched in September.

Jon continued: "We urge people who are victims of a rape and serious sexual assault to come forward and report the incident to police as soon as possible, as this will significantly increase our chances of catching the offender."

David Padgett, area manager for Victim Support in Herts, said: "Experiencing rape or a serious sexual assault is an awful thing to happen to someone, but the important thing to remember is that whatever the circumstances, we are here to help and support you regardless of whether you decide to go through the police or not. By contacting Victim Support you will be speaking to people who know how you feel and will offer help and support non-judgementally."

Anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault should contact the police on 0845 33 00 222. Victim Support can be reached on 01707 354626 and Rape Crisis on 01707 276512.

Police tips for staying safe:

1. Eat before drinking.

2. Drink beers and wines which contain fewer units.

3. Set yourself a drinks limit for the night.

4. Have the occasional soft drink or water to avoid dehydration.

5. If you don't want to drink at someone else's pace, be firm and don't.

6. Use more mixers in your drinks.

7. Don't have large measures, especially doubles or large glasses of wine.

8. Plan how you are going to get home. Arrange for someone to pick you up or get a taxi, using a reputable firm. Or book a taxi to take you home before you go out.

9. Do not walk home alone. If you must walk home, walk in groups and keep to well lit areas and main roads. Avoid alleyways and short cuts.

10. Don't leave drinks unattended.

11. Look after your friends. If they are heavily intoxicated , make sure they get home safely and do not do anything they may regret in the morning.

12. Know your limit and drink sensibly. Stop when you know you have had enough.


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