Police aim to raise awareness over rapes

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 December 2010

The police are appealing ahead of the busy Christmas period

The police are appealing ahead of the busy Christmas period

Copyright Archant Ltd

POLICE are trying to make sure people have a safe time partying over the festive season by raising awareness of acquaintance rape.

Avon and Somerset Police say most people believe they are far more likely to be raped by a stranger than an acquaintance, despite research showing that people are eight times more likely to be raped by some they know than by a stranger.

With thousands of people set to hit the bars, pubs and clubs of North Somerset over Christmas and New Year, police say they are keen to change this perception.

The term acquaintance rape refers to the victim knowing the offender, and police say that sexual assaults of this nature mainly take place on Friday and Saturday nights between midnight and 4am.

A police study has shown that in half of all reported cases of acquaintance rape, the victim is aged between 17 and 21.

Superintendent Steve Jeffries, force prevention lead on rape and sexual assault, said: “It should be stressed that incidents of rape are rare and account for less than one per cent of crime in the force area.

“Predominantly, acquaintance rape refers to those cases where two people – who know each other previously or get to know each other that evening – meet up in a bar or club and head back to one of their homes at the end of the night and things go too far.

“In addition, alcohol features in over half (54 per cent) of all reported acquaintance rape cases and this is obviously a factor as it can impair people’s judgement.”

“Often we believe that victims of acquaintance rape are ashamed to come forward as they believe it is their fault but this is not the case. We will take all reports of rape extremely seriously.”

For more information, visit www.rapeaware.org

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