Stark rape warning from Northamptonshire Police ahead of Christmas party season
"If someone is excessively drunk - too drunk to know what they are doing - then they cannot consent to sex."
That's the message from a senior Northamptonshire Police officer who has spoken out to remind people about the law regarding rape.
His message came as part of the force's relaunch of their #NoConsentNoSex campaign, timed to coincide with the festive party season.
The two-week digital media campaign, which is supported by Serenity, Northamptonshire Rape Crisis and Voice, aims to raise awareness of sexual crime and in particular highlight the issue of consent. It delivers the stark message that sex without consent is rape or sexual assault.
Reducing and preventing sexual crime is a high priority for the force. Detective Superintendent Paul Rymarz believes it’s important to highlight the issue of sexual consent and ensure people fully understand what constitutes rape, particularly where alcohol is involved.
He said: “A person can only consent to have sex if they agree by choice and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. If someone is excessively drunk - too drunk to know what they are doing - then they cannot consent to sex. If there’s any question over whether someone has drunk too much to give consent, assume they haven’t given it. If they haven’t consented and you still have sex with them, it’s rape or sexual assault and this has serious consequences.
“As well as a lengthy prison sentence and being placed on the sex offender register, a conviction for rape or any other crime can place significant restrictions on career choices, severely affect job prospects and limit overseas travel. In other words, it’s life changing.
“Rape and sexual assault has a huge impact on the victim. It’s important to remember that rape can happen to both women and men and we would urge anyone affected by it to seek support during what will be a very traumatic time.
“While we would always encourage people to report sexual crime to the police, we understand not everyone feels able to do that, at least initially. But it’s still important they get help.
“The organisations supporting our campaign – Northamptonshire Rape Crisis, the sexual assault referral centre Serenity and Voice, which provides victim and witness support across the county – can all provide support and advice, both emotional and practical.
“If you’ve been a victim of sexual crime, whether it happened yesterday or several years ago, please talk to someone. You can report it directly to police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency or you can contact one of the support agencies for advice."
Northamptonshire Police say they will thoroughly investigate all incidents of rape and sexual assault reported to them. However, going to the police isn’t the only option and there are other organisations that can provide advice and support, whether or not the victim decides to report it the police.
If you’ve been the victim and feel that you can, it is important report rape or sexual assault as soon as possible.
Even if you’re not 100 per cent sure, officers say they would sooner hear from you to ensure your safety.
If you’re not ready to talk to the police just yet you can click here\ for a range of places to get support, advice and medical help.