By Tim Clarke 09/08 Updated: 16/08 15:10
WEST Mercia Police say they stand by a poster appeal which caused outrage among some campaigners who claimed it suggested women that get drunk could be to blame if they are raped.
The force's Safe Night Out poster campaign had attracted stinging criticism from Jocelyn Anderson, chief officer of the West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, who claimed the posters were 'inappropriate' and called for them to be scrapped.
But despite widespread reports in the national media that West Mercia had apologised for the campaign a force spokeswoman said that was not the case and they remained firmly behind its message.
"We haven't apologised for the campaign," she said.
"Our officer was asked to comment on local radio on the opinion of a rape victim who said that she was disappointed with the campaign and she didn't like it. He said we apologise if that's how it made her feel and that wasn't our intention. He was making an apology to one woman but that has been turned into police apologising for the campaign. We have had criticism from a few people but we have also had quite a lot of support from other people who think it's a good campaign."
The campaign ran from July 13 to 28 and featured male and female versions of the poster which both carry the message 'Don't let a night full of promise turn into a morning full of regret'.
The posters state that by drinking excessively people could leave themselves more vulnerable to 'regretful sex or even rape'.
But Mrs Anderson claimed by focusing on women's drinking behaviour the force was perpetuating the idea of blaming the victim and ignoring the fact that drinking was not a crime but rape was.
She also criticised the police for not consulting her or the centre before launching the campaign.
Mrs Anderson added: "I'm very disappointed the police haven't apologised for the campaign. There are different campaigns that could have been used that are not so offensive and do not blame the victims. The female poster suggests the woman facilitated the rape by not staying sober but alcohol has nothing to do with rape, it's a vulnerability factor not the cause. The cause of rape is the rapist. I think they should reconsider using these images again."
But the police spokeswoman said the male version of the poster carried the clear and strong message if a man ended up in trouble they would be arrested, could lose their job and be placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
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