Forth Valley Police make ‘consent’ prime issue in bid to stop sex crime

Detective Inspector Michelle Findlay.
Detective Inspector Michelle Findlay.

Forth Valley Police are highlighting the fact that sex without consent is rape - regardless of the circumstances - in a new campaign designed to keep revellers safe over the festive season.

The campaign has been launched at the same time as a survey of 4,000 people revealed that a third of people in Britain think it isn’t usually rape if a woman is pressured into having sex but there is no physical violence.

Amid continuing concern by Rape Crisis Scotland that sex crime generally is on the increase the police initiative aims to address public ignorance of what constitutes rape - but also seeks simply to keep people safe.

Rape Crisis Scotland has a national helpline for anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when it happened, offering free and confidential support and information on 08088 01 03 02.‎

It says the latest survey (commissioned by End Violence Against Women) shows a worrying lack of understanding of what rape actually is.

A spokesperson said: “The law is clear - sex without consent is rape.

“In Scotland, the conviction rate for rape is 39 per cent, which is lower than for any other crime type.

“Public attitudes need to change if rape survivors are to have access to justice”.

Posters from the national We Can Stop It campaign have been displayed in schools, colleges and universities, as well as pubs and clubs, NHS Forth Valley buildings and GP Surgeries, and on local police social media accounts.

Local pubs and clubs are being briefed on what to do if a customer has been the victim of a sexual offence, and Forth Valley’s licensing department will also be supporting a local Ask for Angela scheme.

It enables people who feel uncomfortable or unsafe on a date to ask discreetly for help from staff - who will then ensure they leave the premises safely without the person they’re worried about.

Detective Inspector Michelle Findlay said: “It’s important for us at this time of year, in particular with the increased number of social opportunities, to affirm the need for consent - as well as what consent is - which we’re aiming to do through our campaign.

“Sexual crimes are treated with the utmost seriousness by Police Scotland and we’ll continue to work with partners to raise awareness of such offences, as well as encourage people to report these to us.”

Anyone with information or concerns about sexual crime can call Police Scotland on 101, or report these anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, always dialling 999 if a crime is ongoing

“We want people to enjoy the festive period, but to do so safely.

“Local community officers will also be giving advice to all partygoers on how to safeguard themselves against any form of criminality throughout the festive period.