Campaign to alter attitudes to sex crimes

A MAJOR new initiative has been launched by the police and their partners to educate and change attitudes towards rape and sexual assaults.

The ‘We can stop it’ campaign is now being used by every force in Scotland, including Lothian and Borders Police.

Working with local communities during the festive period, it promotes a recent shift in the law that created a range of new offences relating to sex without consent.

Crimes that previously hadn’t been focused on, such as sex when a victim is asleep or unconscious, sex without consent through drink or drugs, and male rape, all fall under the new legislation.

The campaign is aimed at young men aged between 18 and 27 years old, a demographic that was identified as a key target audience for the initiative.

A series of posters and vinyls have been designed that use strong, thought-provoking statements from young men acting as positive role models.

It asks the audience to consider their own behaviour and the role they can play in preventing rape.

In the run-up to the busy festive period, police officers across the region will be working with the Safer Communities Team from Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre, and staff from NHS Borders to distribute the awareness-raising marketing materials in key locations.

Sites such as bars and clubs, rugby and football clubs, bookmakers, accident-and-emergency departments, universities and colleges, will all be displaying the visuals.

Detective Chief Inspector Amanda McGrath from Lothian and Borders Police says it is vitally important that the changes in legislation are promoted and understood.

“The tone and language of the campaign marks a significant shift in approach to raising awareness of sexual offences legislation, and I hope that it will help remind men that they are in complete control of their behaviour,” she said.

Dawn Osborne, from Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre, added: “Often in the past, the responsibility for keeping themselves safe has been placed firmly with women as potential victims of rape.

“This new campaign effectively reflects the new sexual offences legislation which puts the responsibility on the perpetrator to ensure and prove someone has consented or is deemed able to consent to sex.”