Commissioner and Chief Constable launch consent campaign for Christmas season

24 Nov 2017 15:00 PM

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'Sex without consent is rape' is the Christmas campaign message from Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird and Northumbria Police this year. 

The campaign aims to highlight to both men and women the misconceptions about what rape is and where the boundaries are when it comes to consent.

Here, we tell you all you need to know about this really important issue: 


What it means

Consent is defined as ‘free agreement’. That means than in circumstances where there is some sort of coercion, violence or threat, consent in these circumstances would not be freely given. 


Consent isn’t given when

  • The person is incapable of consenting because of the effect of alcohol or any other substance.
  • The victim is asleep or unconscious.
  • The victim agrees because of violence or threats of violence used against them. 


It’s ok to change your mind

The law says that if you've said yes to sex, but then change your mind, you can still say no.

Consent to one type of activity does not mean that you’ve consented to anything else.  

You can change your mind at any point – before or during the activity. 


How do you know if consent has been given?

Consent should always be clear, so you must ensure you have it or have given it.

If you are not sure - ask. They might tell you directly, or show you with their actions. 

If the person says things like ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I feel worried’ or something similar - stop.

No matter what the circumstances are, sex without consent is rape. 


Here are some common misconceptions about sexual consent

WRONG Consent is generally not something you can communicate because of the nature of sexual interaction.

WRONG Agreeing to do something sexual means you have agreed to do everything else as well.

WRONG If you’re drunk or wearing a certain type of clothing, you’re asking for it. 


What can you do if you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted?

Anyone who is raped - man or woman - can seek support from Northumbria police. We urge victims to get help either through the force or other organisations like Rape Crisis or Victims First.

When somebody is raped they often feel guilt and shame and they find it very hard to report it. We cannot emphasise it enough that should you report a sexual offence, you will be believed, listened to, supported, and most importantly treated with dignity and respect.


Here’s what our partners at Rape Crisis have to say: 

“We absolutely support this new initiative from Commissioner Vera Baird and Northumbria Police and their message to would-be perpetrators. At Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland we are keen to let women and girls in our community know that no matter what the circumstance, no means no. It is important that people in our community know if they decide to report a sexual offence that Northumbria Police are there for you and will listen and believe you, but importantly, if you do not decide to report, you can still seek independent support, advice and counselling from Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland.”