‘Stay safe’ campaign launched by police as revellers return to pubs and bars
PUBLISHED: 16:21 06 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:21 06 August 2020
A campaign to reduce sexual violence and vulnerability for revellers has been launched by police as people return to pubs and bars across the county post-lockdown.
Suffolk Constabulary’s ‘Stay Safe’ campaign is aiming to raise awareness of the issues involved in rape and other sexual offences in a bid to reduce the number of crimes being committed.
The force said in a significant number of the serious sexual offences which are reported, the perpetrator and victim are described as “acquaintances” – in some cases having met in a bar or social situation hours before.
The force is also relaunching the ‘Ask for Angela’ initiative, which helps enable those who feel vulnerable on a night out to discreetly ask pub and club staff for help.
It is hoped that by ‘Asking for Angela’, a person within a pub or bar can quickly alert staff and gain help. Staff will then take the customer to one side and find out more regarding the type of support they need.
Figures presented to the police and crime commissioner’s accountability and performance panel meeting in July showed 5.1% of 2,083 serious sexual offences in Suffolk were solved between April 2019 and March 2020 – down 1.7% on the three-year average.
A 20% rise in offences against the long-term average was put down to increased compliance with recording practices, with 52.3% of victims unable to support the police investigation.
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Suffolk has the highest number of rapes per 1,000 population against its most similar forces, but achieves a comparatively high (56.9%) conviction rate.
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Detective Chief Inspector Barry Byford of Suffolk Constabulary, said: “With the easing of restrictions and more people going back to pubs and bars, it’s more important than ever to support this campaign. We want to be clear that it is offenders who are responsible for sex assaults, nobody else.
“The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme is a simple, effective initiative that allows those who may find themselves in a vulnerable situation with an easy and quick way to gain support and prevent a possible crime from taking place.
“We understand that reporting a sexual assault can be extremely difficult, but be reassured that police are dedicated to helping anyone, male or female, who may have been a victim of this type of crime. We have specially trained officers, who are focused on helping and supporting victims of all sexual assaults. We will investigate offences professionally offering support and guidance from the time of reporting through to the conclusion.
“If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, please remember it is not your fault. Regardless of the circumstances we will never treat any type of rape as more or less serious than any other.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Anything aimed at keeping people safe has my full support. This is a very imaginative campaign and if it helps protect just one vulnerable person it will be a success in my book.
“As people are now heading out to pubs and bars as the easing of Covid-19 restrictions allow, I would urge them to take note of this campaign. Asking for Angela is a simple way to flag to others that you feel vulnerable without having to go into detail, it’s a great idea and one that I hope everyone will embrace.”
Anyone wishing to speak to someone in confidence about sexual abuse or violence can contact Suffolk police on 101, or staff at The Ferns (sexual assault referral centre) on 0300 1235058 or via email email@example.com
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