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“Why would you force feed someone while they’re unconscious?” - police campaign to clear ‘confusion’ around sexual consent

Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies have launched an Instagram campaign to tackle issues of consent. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies have launched an Instagram campaign to tackle issues of consent. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Archant

A series of short videos are being released to put the issue of sexual consent in every day contexts as reported rape and sexual assaults continue to rise.

In a joint campaign, Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies have filmed scenarios in clips of less than 60 seconds to drive home the message behind sexual consent.

In the first a couple sit down on the sofa with a pizza, and when the girl falls asleep her partner force-feeds it to her.

The campaign comes as sexual offences have risen by a quarter in Norfolk, and is released to coincide with Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

The videos will be released on the forces’ Instagram accounts as ‘stories’ over five weeks.

As part of the campaign, extensive and thorough research was carried out including focus groups with the target audience of 13 to 25-year-olds. It involved them completing a questionnaire about what they think consent is.

Once the films had been completed the focus groups were then asked to view the videos before answering more questions and having discussions about consent.

Sexual assault victims and staff who work within the Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) were consulted with as well as charity Rape Crisis to ensure content is accurate and appropriate.

The videos, which have been produced and filmed by local company Eye Film, all aim to address the issues around consent by raising awareness and to educate members of the public about seeking consent.

Each video uses an example of a routine scenario and a different relationship.

Head of Safeguarding in Norfolk, T/Det Supt Andy Coller, said: “There is often confusion about what is meant by consent and so we hope, by showing a range of everyday situations where people clearly have not consented to what has happened to them, these thought-provoking films will encourage discussion and lead to a wider understanding about what consent means in a sexual context.

“When developing the campaign we decided to have 30-second videos with the duration representing how quickly someone’s decisions can turn sinister.

“We understand that people might find these videos quite shocking, but it’s important we raise awareness of consent, what it means and the consequences for offenders who do not seek consent.”

During the five-week campaign, the videos, which include interviews with a victim, will be posted on Instagram (norfolkpolice) as well as Facebook (Norfolk Constabulary), Twitter (@NorfolkPolice) and the force’s website signposting people who would like help and support to the SARCs. Each post will use the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent.

The SARC, called The Harbour Centre, is jointly funded by Norfolk Constabulary and NHS England and has supported more than 3,000 victims since it opened in 2010.

The centre provides ongoing specialist tailored support to victims through Crisis Workers and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs).

This includes medical examinations following a recent rape or sexual assault, which can be done without any police involvement. If, at any time, a victim decides to talk to police, this can be arranged.

The Harbour Centre also supports those who have suffered abuse in the past as well as providing impartial information to victims concerning their options, accessing health services such as sexual health screening and specialist support including counselling. ISVAs also provide information on other services the person may require including health and social care, housing, or benefits.

Anyone who would like to speak to someone in confidence about sexual abuse can contact staff at The Harbour Centre on 01603 276381 or: contact@theharbourcentre.co.uk. Alternatively, there is also further information at www.norfolk.police.uk and www.theharbourcentre.co.uk.

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