Norfolk police re-launch rape campaign for festive season

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With the festive season about to start party goers in Norfolk are being encouraged to follow a few simple steps to avoid becoming a victim of crime.

As part of its commitment to reducing vulnerability, the force is re-launching its Time To Stop rape campaign with a focus on the night time economy.

The three key messages this year will be:

- Plan your route home

- Stay with your friends

- Know your limits

A colourful series of boards bearing the Time to Stop clock logo and the three messages will be positioned on street furniture in and around key clubbing zones in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, Thetford and Dereham.

Hundreds of complimentary posters will also be on display in nightclubs, pubs, taxi offices and ranks and takeaway outlets.

Detective Inspector Richard Ellis, who heads the constabulary’s rape unit, said: “Our city and towns are great places for people to go out and enjoy themselves and that is exactly what we want people to do.

“Norfolk is generally a very safe place, but we are reminding young women in particular to stay with their friends and look out for one another and ensure they plan their route home.

“It is a fact that a number of rapes and sexual assaults are linked to alcohol and nights out and in most cases the victim and offender know one another or have just met.

“We know alcohol makes people more vulnerable therefore our third key message is know your limits.

“Have a good night out but look out for each other and make sure you all get home safely.”

A number of Police Support Unit (PSU) vans will also carry the logos and the constabulary will turn to social media in an extra bid to bring home the messages.

As well as pushing marketing messages the constabulary’s licensing team have been carrying out focused briefings with licensees, door staff and taxi drivers across the county concerning victim vulnerability.

Time to Stop was launched in June 2012 as a joint campaign by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies.

Its primary aim was to raise awareness of the issues and law around rape and sexual assault among young women and men, who statistics show are most likely to be affected, and to sign-post victims to the services available in both counties.

In Norfolk there were 290 rapes recorded in 2013/14 and 374 in 2014/15. Since April 1 2015 there have been 310 reported rapes to date.

Other work undertaken under the Time to Stop banner since 2012 has included:

- The release of a short online film, Look What You Did, showing the journey of three victims through the specialist support of their local Sexual Assault Referral Centre

- Improved online information for victims and people affected by sexual violence on the police and SARC websites

- Presentations by police and SARC workers to health and education providers

- Time to Stop posters, leaflets, stickers and beer mats in a range of clubs and pubs, and local radio advertising in both counties

- Work in schools by Safer Schools Partnership police officers, in support of the campaign

In the 12 months prior to the campaign’s launch (June 2011 to May 2012) there were 1,503 visitors to the Norfolk’s SARC (The Harbour Centre) website compared with 4,266 for the same period in 2014/15 - a 184% increase.

Diana Baxter, manager of the centre, said: “Rape is a subject that provokes strong emotions and opinions and misconceptions about rape are widespread. This is why it is really important for people to know about our service and what we do at the SARC to support any person who has experienced rape or serious sexual assault at any stage in their lives.

“Victims can contact us directly and will receive the very same service they would if they chose to report to the police. We don’t put any pressure on them to report. We can securely store evidence gained and if they decide to report at a later date we will be able to help and support this process.”

Stephen Bett, Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This campaign continues to have my full support and backing. We want people to go out in our wonderful county and enjoy themselves, have a good night and get home safely. Anything that makes that a reality has to be a good thing and I praise the constabulary for taking the initiative.”