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See how police are spelling out sexual consent with clear-cut Instagram campaign

PUBLISHED: 00:01 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42 04 February 2019

Five videos are being launched by Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies in a bid to raise awareness of the issues around consent in relation to serious sexual offences  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Five videos are being launched by Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies in a bid to raise awareness of the issues around consent in relation to serious sexual offences Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Suffolk Constabulary

Police hope a social media drive can help stem rising sex assaults by highlighting issues of consent.

To coincide with Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Suffolk and Norfolk police commissioned five short films, using routine scenarios to dispel ambiguity around consent.

In the first of five videos, due for release as Instagram Stories in coming weeks, a young man force feeds pizza to a woman who passes out after the pair return home.

Research was conducted to ensure content was accurate and appropriate, said police, including focus groups with youngsters and consultation with victims, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) staff and Suffolk Rape Crisis.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said: “We worked closely with young people, service providers and our specialist teams to get a message across to the people who really need to hear it.

Images from the consent campaign by Norfolk and Suffolk police  Picture: RACHEL EDGEImages from the consent campaign by Norfolk and Suffolk police Picture: RACHEL EDGE

“It gives us an opportunity to target an audience in which these issues arise most often.”

SARC manager, Carol Studd said sexual assault can have an impact on physical and mental health, careers and relationships, but that help was available, whether or not victims support a criminal justice outcome.

Known as The Ferns, the SARC offers support from crisis workers and independent sexual violence advisors, who will appear in online interviews as part of the campaign, which cost the forces a combined £6,000 and will use the hashtag #ThisISNotConsent.

Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said he hoped young people would take note of the important message.

Launch of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week at Ipswich Town Hall  Picture: RACHEL EDGELaunch of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week at Ipswich Town Hall Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Amy Roch, director of Suffolk Rape Crisis, welcomed the idea but called for equal focus on what healthy relationships look like.

She said: “It is great that Suffolk police are highlighting consent in young people’s relationships and are choosing to focus on those who perpetrate sexual violence. Too often the focus is on what women should do to keep themselves safe.

“It is a worrying reality that rape myths are still prevalent, even amongst young people. All of us have responsibility to challenge these myths, and this is one of the reasons why sex and relationships education for all children and young people is so vital.

“It is obviously important to highlight that sex without consent is rape, but not having sex with unconscious people is a pretty low bar. We also need to focus on what positive and healthy relationships look like for young people.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger and temporary SARC manager Carol Studd  Picture: RACHEL EDGEDetective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger and temporary SARC manager Carol Studd Picture: RACHEL EDGE

On Friday afternoon, Ipswich Town Hall was lit purple to support this week’s awareness campaign, during which messages encouraging victims to come forward will be shared on police social media accounts, using the hashtag #ItsNotOk.

•A recent Suffolk police report revealed an almost 24% rise in serious sexual offences to 1,722 last year.

One in 16 were solved, while support for investigation dropped 5% to two thirds of victims.

Thirty percent of rape victims disengaged at first contact – most not wanting to relive memories. Analysis showed disengagement may be due to 60% being reported by a third party, while half of the rest awaited outcome.

On Friday afternoon, Ipswich Town Hall was lit purple to support this weeks campaign, during which messages encouraging victims to come forward will be shared on police social media accounts, using the hashtag #ItsNotOk Picture: RACHEL EDGEOn Friday afternoon, Ipswich Town Hall was lit purple to support this weeks campaign, during which messages encouraging victims to come forward will be shared on police social media accounts, using the hashtag #ItsNotOk Picture: RACHEL EDGE

At the time, Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said numbers were higher than the force would like, but that conviction rates were the highest in the region.

To get help, call police on 101, or speak to The Ferns on 0300 123 5058 or via contact@theferns-suffolk.org.uk.

Support for adult survivors of child abuse can be found at survivorsintransition.co.uk; for therapeutic services for child victims, visit fsnb.org.uk; support for women and girls over 14 who experience sexual violence can be found at srchelp.org.uk/home.

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