A rape awareness campaign has been relaunched in time for the festive party season.

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Suffolk Constabulary’s “The Time to Stop” initiative returns this week as part of a nationwide campaign focusing on sexual crimes and the victim support available.

The Association of Chief Police Officers’ week-long “In Focus: Rape” will see posters displayed at licensed premises reminding people to know their limits, officers urging women to stick together and media messages warning party-goers of the potential dangers in the festive season.

Chief Constable Douglas Paxton said: “Through the ACPO In Focus week and the Time to Stop campaign we aim to reduce the number of people affected but also fill those who have been assaulted with the confidence to come forward to police.

“We remain as committed as ever to ensuring victims get the support they rightly deserve as well as the justice they expect. “Our message to offenders remains the same; rape is rape and there are no excuses, there is no grey area.

“Men need to understand that if a woman says no or is incapable of consenting, for instance through drink or drugs, they are committing a criminal offence.”

The campaign, primarily targeted at the young men and women who are most likely to be affected by rape, will also highlight the services available to the victims of such crimes.

Officers will be handing out cards featuring details of the region’s sexual assault referral centres (SARC), which in Suffolk has seen nearly 2,000 unique visitors to its website since the launch of the campaign in 2012.

Centre manager Lynn Ambrose 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 it 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.”

Information about rape and sexual violence and the local services available for victims of such crimes can be found at www.suffolk.police.uk/timetostop or www.theferns-suffolk.org.uk

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