A UNIQUE, hard-hitting campaign has been launched in East Lancashire to try to stop rape attacks during the festive season.
Lancashire police are trying to cut the number of sexual assaults during or after Christmas parties by spreading the message that they will investigate ‘every single report of rape’. And in one of two posters that will be displayed online, in pub and club toilets, leisure centres, GP surgeries and other local businesses a cotton bud used for obtaining DNA is displayed alongside the question ‘Do you know where we insert this? - It is inserted into your penis to secure evidence of rape’.
Police said they wanted to emphasise that the procedure was uncomfortable.
Det Chief Insp Neil Esseen, who is behind the campaign, said: “The main reason we have launched such a shocking campaign is because we need to challenge people’s perception of rape.
“Often when a member of the public thinks of rape - they think of a stranger attack in the street. But this is just not the case in Lancashire. Incidents of rape in general are falling with only one per cent of those committed by strangers.
“More often that not the victim knows her attacker, as an acquaintance or friend.
“I want to get the message out that Lancashire police will arrest every person accused of rape, because at the very least the offender has broken the boundaries set down by the victim.”
Lancashire police has a comparatively successful conviction rate of 37 per cent for rape.
A significant number of rapes and sexual assaults involve alcohol and there can be a rise in reports during December due to more people going out drinking, police said.
A different poster aimed at potential victims, highlights the fact that many sexual assaults occur in the victim’s home.
But despite all the police’s hard work, detectives still believe some rapes go unreported.
DCI Esseen, said: “It does not matter what a victim is wearing, how much they have had to drink or if there has been physical contact already – no means no and if there is no consent then there should be no sex. Alcohol can impair the ability of a person to give that proper consent – so if in doubt, don’t.
“Rape and sexual assault can be a taboo subject. The images used on our posters have been chosen to grab attention, create a talking point and raise awareness of the issue.
“The message to offenders is very clear but uncomfortable - you will be arrested, we will take evidence from you and you will be brought to justice.
“We also want victims to know that they will be treated with compassion and that everything possible will be done to trace those responsible and take action against them.
“We hope that this will encourage more people to come forward and report what has happened to them.”
Vivan Blackledge, project manager at Blackburn with Darwen’s Women’s Aid, said: “Certainly any campaign that raises awareness and challenges the perception of rape has our backing.
“People need to realise every action has a consequence and often rape is committed by someone we know.
“It is a really positive step that the police are taking such a drastic step. I hope people take note.”
For more information, on how police deal with reports of rape and sexual assaults visit www.lancashire.police.uk/operation-nexus .