The #NoConsentNoSex campaign, which is supported by Serenity, Northamptonshire Rape Crisis and Voice, aims to raise awareness of sexual crime and in particular highlight the issue of consent. It delivers the message that just because someone has been drinking or may have already engaged in some level of intimacy, such as kissing, if they don’t actively consent to sex, it’s rape.
Through a series of eye-catching visuals and messages, shared through social media, the campaign seeks to educate those who may not fully realise the implications of their actions as well as spell out the serious consequences of committing a serious sexual offence.
Reducing and preventing sexual crime is a high priority for the Force. Detective Superintendent Mark Behan believes it’s important to highlight the issue of sexual consent and ensure people fully understand what constitutes rape, particularly where alcohol is involved.
He said: “A person can only consent to have sex if they agree by choice and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Just because someone doesn’t say ‘no’ or physically try to resist, it doesn’t mean they are saying yes to sex.
“It’s surprising how many people don’t seem to realise that if someone is excessively drunk - too drunk to know what they are doing - then they cannot consent to sex. If there’s any question over whether someone has drunk too much to give consent, assume they haven’t given it. If they haven’t consented and you still have sex with them, it’s rape - and this has serious consequences.
“As well as a lengthy prison sentence and being placed on the sex offender register, a conviction for rape or any other crime can place significant restrictions on career choices, severely affect job prospects and limit overseas travel. In other words, it’s life changing.”
Rape can be life changing for the victim too and it’s important that anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault gets support.
Northamptonshire Police will thoroughly investigate all incidents of rape and sexual assault reported to them. However, going to the police isn’t the only option and there are other organisations that can provide advice and support, whether or not the victim decides to report it the police.
Det Supt Behan added: “Rape and sexual assault has a huge impact on the victim. It’s important to remember that rape can happen to both women and men and we would urge anyone affected by it to seek support during what will be a very traumatic time.
“While we would always encourage people to report sexual crime to the police, we understand not everyone feels able to do that, at least initially. But it’s still important they get help.
“The organisations supporting our campaign – Northamptonshire Rape Crisis, the sexual assault referral centre Serenity and Voice, which provides victim and witness support across the county – can all provide support and advice, both emotional and practical.
“If you’ve been a victim of sexual crime, whether it happened yesterday or several years ago, please talk to someone. You can report it directly to police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency or you can contact one of the support agencies for advice."