'Stay Safe’ Campaign launched to reduce sexual assaults
As the lockdown from Covid-19 eases and more people return to pubs and bars, Suffolk Constabulary are launching a ‘Stay Safe’ campaign to reduce sexual violence and vulnerability for those on a night out.
It aims to raise awareness of the issues involved in rape and other sexual offences, in a bid to reduce the number of crimes being committed. It is known that in a significant number of the serious sexual offences reported to police, the perpetrator and victim were described as ‘acquaintances’, in some cases having met in a bar or social situation in the hours before the offence has taken place. The campaign highlights that activities such as sharing a taxi, walking someone home or sharing a kiss aren’t a crime, but rape is.
To support the ‘Stay Safe’ campaign Suffolk Constabulary 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 provides people with a discreet phrase they can use to gain assistance from staff should they find themselves in a worrying or intimidating situation.
The project, which was originally launched by Lincolnshire County Council gained support across the country with a number of other forces, partner organisations and councils backing the campaign.
It is hoped that by ‘Asking for Angela’, a person within a pub or bar can quickly alert staff and gain their help. Staff will then take the customer to one side and find out more regarding the type of support they need.
As part of the initiative, options available to staff include offering to call a taxi in order to get them home safely, trying to contact friends or family, or asking the individual who may be causing distress to leave the venue immediately. However, should a more serious incident arise, then bar staff can contact police to help them deal with the matter. “
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 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 who would like 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 protected]
For further information, support and advice visit
www.survivorsintransition.co.uk Survivors in Transition - Specialist support in Suffolk for female and male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, violence and exploitation
www.fsnb.org.uk Fresh Start – New beginnings, provides a therapeutic service for children and young people up to 21 years who have reported being sexually abused and to offer support for their families.
www.suffolkrapecrisis.org.uk Suffolk Rape Crisis – Support service open to females aged 14 or above who needs support following a rape or sexual assault