Now the Christmas party season is in full swing, investigators from the Bedfordshire Police’s Emerald team are issuing a timely reminder about the importance of consent.
And they are reiterating that the onus lies squarely with offenders.
‘A person must have the freedom and capacity to consent to any sexual activity.
‘If you are incapacitated through the use of alcohol or drugs, you may not be capable of consenting to sex, and anyone who pursues it is committing a crime.
‘Sex without consent is rape.’
Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Dadd, who heads up the Emerald team which investigates rape and sexual offences, said: “We continue to work tirelessly, alongside our partners, to educate people about what constitutes consent.
“If someone has been drinking, or using drugs, and is not freely able to give their consent, then to undergo sexual activity with them is a criminal act.
“There is a common misconception that if someone is drunk then they can be more willing to engage in sexual activity, which we are constantly challenging in all aspects of our work.
“We will continue to raise awareness and emphasise the importance of taking responsibility for personal safety, but for us, the onus lies squarely with offenders – and the message at Christmas, as it is at any other time of year, is that no consent means no.
“Anyone, of any gender, who chooses to use the festive period as an excuse to target a vulnerable person, must expect a criminal investigation will follow.
“However, if something has happened to you, please know, that if you come forward, you will be treated with the utmost sensitivity and respect.”
Victims of rape and sexual assault will be given care and guidance from Bedfordshire Police and its partner agencies, including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), as well as support through the investigation process.
You can make a report to police on 101, or can contact Bedfordshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) the Emerald Centre, by visiting www.emeraldcentre.org, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01234 897052.
Always call 999 in an emergency.
For more information about consent, please visit the force’s information pages.