Sexual consent campaign - Thames Valley

12/09/2013

A campaign is being launched in Thames Valley to raise awareness and understanding of sexual consent.

The campaign, which has been developed by Oxford Safer Communities Partnership at Oxford City Council, Thames Valley Probation, and Oxford Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centre, and is supported by Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) aims to encourage young people to explicitly ask for consent with all sexual encounters.

In addition, it provides a greater understanding of what sexual consent means, what is illegal, and that everyone has the right to say no, and this should be respected.

Liz Jones, Domestic and Sexual Abuse Coordinator at Oxford City Council, says: "We want to get males and females to think and talk about sexual consent.  Asking for consent should be a normal part of any sexual relationship.  Often it is implied, which may lead to misinterpretation.  We are encouraging young people to actively ask and check that the other person is okay and comfortable with any sexual activity."

The campaign will be launched on Monday, 16 September 2013, at 10am at Said Business School in Kennington and representatives from Oxford City Council, Thames and Chiltern CPS, Thames Valley Probation, Thames Valley Police, and Oxford Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centre will be present.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern CPS, says: "I am really pleased to support this important campaign. A better understanding by all concerned of what consent really means and what the pitfalls are, especially when drugs or alcohol is involved, will not only help to reduce the number of victims, but also those who put themselves at risk of committing a sexual offence such as rape.

"Just because a person doesn't actually say no, doesn't mean that you can presume they are consenting.  Don't assume anything. Take control; be clear on what you want/don't want and what the other person wants/doesn't want. It's quite simple, checking a person is consenting could avoid a prison sentence.

"The CPS takes all allegations of rape and sexual offences seriously and has specialist rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) prosecutors who have expertise in dealing with sexual offences cases. We work with the police and the courts to ensure that victims are given the best possible support during the court process. Cases of rape and other serious sexual offences are among the most difficult cases that we deal with and need to be dealt with very sensitively.  We will continue to vigorously prosecute all such offenders and particularly those who target young and vulnerable victims."

Kilvinder Vigurs, Thames Valley Probation Director, says: "Thames Valley Probation works with victims and offenders. We believe strongly that preventive work is necessary to break the cycle of sexual offending and stopping victimisation in the first place.

"We support the campaign to help people respect the need for consent when having sexual relationships.  We need to combat negative images and language that influence people about sex often coming via the internet including pornography and social media.

"We want to work with our partner agencies to promote education and open discussion to allow unhealthy attitudes about sex to be challenged and help people recognise abusive relationships.  We want the campaign to encourage people to feel confident in their ability to achieve healthy and respectful relationships."

Rowan Honeysett-Williams, aged 18, says: "Sexual consent is an incredibly complex part of any relationship as there are blurred lines and people are heavily influenced by the media and what their peers are saying, which may lead to misconceptions of what sexual consent really is.

"There needs to be clarity and understanding.  The younger generation drink more, party, and push themselves to the limit, which usually goes hand in hand with sexual encounters, so it is important to know that being under the influence of drugs/alcohol can have a significant impact on their ability to obtain and give consent.

"As a young person it is confusing as you are only just entering into these types of relationships, with little experience of asking for consent or how you treat your partner. A campaign on this topic is important, so those who do not have a clear idea can find out what consent is and how, on a basic level, to treat their partners respectfully." 

A dedicated website has been set up and will go live on Monday, 16 September 2013 - www.checkconsent.com. It has information and a video, which shows how a couple could obtain sexual consent. There will be a question and answer section on the website as well as adverts placed on social media sites to help inform young people.

Posters will be displayed in a variety of areas including bus stops, student unions, pubs and clubs. Beer mats will be in pubs and bars.

The campaign will run until mid November across Thames Valley.

Ends

Campaign launch event:

The campaign will be launched on Monday, 16 September 2013, at 10am at Said Business School in Kennington (Egrove Park, Kennington Road, Oxford OX1 5NY). The event will last approximately 30 minutes and will end with a question and answer session with the speakers. Representatives from Oxford City Council, the younger generation, Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service, Thames Valley Probation, Thames Valley Police, and Oxford Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centre will be present and available for interview.

Speaking at the launch event will be:

  • Liz Jones - Domestic and Sexual Abuse Coordinator, Oxford Safer Communities Partnership, Oxford City Council
  • Baljit Ubhey - Chief Crown Prosecutor, Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service
  • Anthony Stansfeld - Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Kilvinder Vigurs - Director with Public Protection Lead, Thames Valley Probation Service
  • Andy Murray - Detective Chief Superintendant, Thames Valley Police
  • Rowan Honeysett-Williams - 18-year-old student

For more information contact:

Oxford Safer Communities Partnership

saferoxford@oxford.gov.uk

01865 252304

Oxford Safer Communities Partnership, c/o Oxford City Council, St Aldates Chambers, St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1DS.