Raising Awareness of Sexual AssaultPhotograph of a man with his head in his hands

14/12/2012

As Christmas approaches North Wales Police and their partners are seeking to once again, raise awareness around issues of sexual consent when people have been drinking.

 

Data collected during the first half of this year has shown that 55% of victims reporting rape offences in North Wales had consumed alcohol, and 43% of suspects for rape offences had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence.

 

Detective Superintendent John Hanson, Head of the North Wales Public Protection Department explained: “We want people in North Wales to enjoy the festive season, and remember Christmas for all the right reasons.”

 

“Alcohol is a prevalent feature in these type of offences, and the message is clear; men need to understand that if a woman says no or is incapable of consenting through drink or drugs, they are committing a serious criminal offence.”

 

Superintendent Hanson urged those attending parties and functions over the Christmas period to enjoy themselves, but to keep themselves and their friends safe.

 

“Alcohol and drugs can make you feel more confident; they can distort your perceptions and judgement and make you more vulnerable.”

 

Here are some simple precautions on how to stay safe:

 

  • Always leave your drink with someone you trust, don't share drinks and never accept a drink from someone that you don't know or have just met.
  • Don't get so drunk that you don't know what you're doing
  • Plan how you're going to get home. Don't walk home alone or go back with someone you have just met - stay with friends or use a taxi
  • Would you go alone into a stranger’s house at 11am in the morning? No? So why do it at 2am drunk? Arrange to meet new acquaintances when sober
  • Always make sure that someone knows where you are and when you're expected back

North Wales Police, in partnership with other agencies continue to invest heavily in attempts to reduce and prevent sexual crimes and take a positive approach to prosecuting offenders.

 

During the first half of this year there has been a 38% increase in reported rape offences in North Wales, an increase which is in line with national trends.

 

Detective Supt Hanson added: “We are focused on reducing sexual crime, and we need to understand and scope the problem by encouraging anyone who has suffered an assault to disclose what has happened to us so we can investigate crimes of this nature, identify serial offenders and sexual predators, and ensure they are prosecuted for these offences.

 

“I am encouraged that increases in reporting reveal confidence in the police with our partners to support these difficult investigations.”

 

North Wales Police and their partners outlined the progress they continue to make in supporting victims of serious sexual offences following the introduction of the Amethyst Sexual Assault Referral Centre – a one-stop location with specially trained officers and medical care professionals based at Colwyn Bay.

 

Victoria Pearce from the Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board, a Crisis Worker at the Centre said: “The officers keep victims updated on the progress of an investigation and act as a link to arrange referrals to other agencies that will provide both emotional and practical help and support. Not every victim wants to speak to the police about their ordeal so we offer victims an alternative; Crisis Workers are available at the Amethyst Centre on a daily basis, twenty four hours a day to provide care and advice about options that are available for survivors of sexual crime.”

 

Detective Superintendent Hanson said: “We understand the many reasons someone might stay silent, but feeling isolated and alone is unlikely to help. We want people to come to us to report these offences, but if they are unable to do so our Health partners provide a real option for obtaining the support and advice they need. I would encourage any victim faced with this dilemma, to consider these options carefully as early contact can often present excellent forensic opportunities to progress investigations.”

 

The Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre North Wales (RASA) is an independent, registered charity, staffed by people who truly understand what it can feel like to experience sexual violence and sexual abuse.  RASA has over 76 experienced, caring professional members of its team, the majority of who give their time free of charge to help transform those particularly difficult feelings following sexual abuse and sexual violence into something more manageable for people using its services.

 

Katherine Moseley, Director of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre North Wales explained;: “Any time of the year can be a difficult time when we are feeling hurt, down, alone or frightened because of what someone has done to us. It is so important that people know that there is real help out there, provided by people that really do understand and care. They can help victims feel more grounded and calmer.”

 

The police are also actively exploring further opportunities to extend their education programme across North Wales. The programme, delivered by the ‘Cat’s Paw’ Theatre Group, has shown extremely promising results in the Eastern area of the Force. The programme helps to emphasise the importance of young people being aware of their legal rights, having an understanding of consent issues and identifying and understanding potentially dangerous situations.

 

If you or anyone needs help with these issues the police can be contacted on 101 or in case of an emergency 999. The Amethyst self referral system (which does not involve police contact) can be accessed via 0808 156 3658. 

 

Alternatively contact RASA on 08080 80 10 800. RASA work in partnership with the All Wales Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse Helpline which is available 24 hours a day, every day.

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