1. ITV Report

Sussex Police defend sexual assault poster blasted as 'victim blaming'

Police defend assault poster blasted as 'victim blaming' Credit: Sussex Police

Sussex Police have defended a poster which critics said blamed women for becoming victims of sexual assault.

The force issued the new poster last week with the line: "Which one of your mates is most vulnerable on a night out? The one you leave behind."

When launching the poster the force called it an 'innovative' approach:

Sussex Police is taking an innovative approach with its latest campaign to prevent rape and serious sexual offences in and around bars and clubs.

The latest Sussex Police campaign highlights how people can intervene to help prevent rape and serious sexual assaults. Other campaigns have focused specifically on consent.

– Sussex Police

However campaigners have blasted the campaign:

But the force has defended the poster saying it is designed to raise awareness and help prevent offences.

Sussex Police have confirmed that they do not intend to withdraw the poster and told ITV News: "Rape is never a victim's fault, but as with all crimes we can reduce the number of victims in several ways. After months of research and talking to partner agencies and people working within the night-time economy, we're urging people to intervene when someone appears to be vulnerable or at risk. Door supervisors, taxi drivers, bar staff and groups of friends or the wider public need to take responsibility to protect others from those who may cause them harm."

This is a real opportunity to make a difference. We would be failing in our response if, as with any other crime, we did not recognise that there are victims and urge them to take steps to minimise risks and help safeguard others from becoming victims. This is the first time we have taken such an approach to raise awareness, with the first phase urging friends to stay together and look after each other, so that no one is left alone or goes off with a stranger. It is vital to be aware of vulnerability so that steps can be taken to guard against it. Friends and bystanders can play a key role in this, learning to recognise where their intervention may prevent a crime taking place.

– Chief Inspector Katy Woolford