The Crown Prosecution Service has launched a social media campaign to get people talking about consent to sex within the context of sexual assault and rape.
This is in partnership with Rape Crisis, End Violence against Women Coalition, Survivors Manchester, White Ribbon Campaign and the National Union of Students.
There is confusion about consent, but there shouldn't be - so we're encouraging people to talk about the issue and understand it, by using the hashtag #ConsentIs... on Twitter and Instagram.
Our role as the Crown Prosecution Service is to consider whether cases reach the required threshold for prosecution, and to prosecute them if so. It is important that the public understands the principles on how and why we prosecute or not.
We want more people to recognise that consent is a concept that is easy to understand, particularly as it is something that rape cases can hinge on in court, and is a key consideration when deciding whether to bring charges.
Q: What is consent?
A: Someone consents only if they agree by choice and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Consent may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs.
Victims of rape are often selected and targeted because of ease of access and opportunity.
Did someone have the capacity
to consent? Were they?
- Under the influence of drink or drugs
- Asleep or unconscious?
- Suffering from a medical condition or mental health problem, or did they have a learning disability?
- Old enough to consent?
- There are many further situations to consider.
Did they have the freedom to consent?
- Was there an abuse of power or trust?
- Was one person dependent on the other?
- Did a partner or family member use force or power?
- Wearing certain clothes doesn’t mean someone wants sex.
- Being drunk can make someone vulnerable. It doesn't mean they’re 'up for it'.
- Trauma after rape can affect memory of even recent events.
- The majority of rapists know their victim.
- Most victims don't fight. Resistance and defence can be through freezing or even trying to befriend the rapist - in fact any effort to prevent, stop or limit the event.
- Delayed or inconsistent reporting may be due to trauma or fear.
Watch the first of our #ConsentIs videos: 'Let's talk about what #ConsentIs':
Watch the second of our #ConsentIs videos: 'Myths and stereotypes about what #ConsentIs':
Watch the third of our #ConsentIs videos: 'Exploring the concept of consent in sexual relationships':
Watch the Tea Consent videos
If you want to find out more about the work of our partner organisations, please see the information below.
- National Union of Students - Confederation of almost 600 students' unions representing the interests of more than 7 million students. http://www.nus.org.uk
- Rape Crisis - Umbrella body for 46 member Rape Crisis organisations, providing services in 57 locations across England and Wales. Aimed at supporting female victims of sexual violence. http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk
- Survivors Manchester - Provides support for male victims of sexual violence, part of the umbrella organisation Survivors Trust. http://www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk
- End Violence Against Women Coalition - Coalition of individuals and organisations calling on the Government and other public bodies to take concerted action to end violence against women. http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk
- White Ribbon Campaign - Campaign run by men urging men to take a stand against violence against women. www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/
For more information from the CPS, you can download and read our leaflet on Consent.
Notes to Editors
- For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
- The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
- At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website: www.cps.gov.uk.
- The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.