Police are warning people to stay safe during party season

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MEN and women are being encouraged to report serious sexual assaults during the party season.

Police and partners are on standby ready to offer support victims that report assaults.

DI Gill Young said: “Research suggests that nationally, as few as 15% of rapes are reported to the police.

“This is extremely worrying to us and we would like to dispel some myths and misconceptions around rape and sexual assault and offer some advice on how to stay safe this party season.

“We would like to reassure people that sexual assault by a stranger is very rare. This accounts for a very small proportion of reports made to us.

“The majority of offences occur within a relationship or acquaintance.

“Most people know the person who assaults them - they may be a current or ex partner, someone they thought was a friend, or someone they have just met on a night out who has come back for coffee.”

DI Young said “Whoever they are, if you did not consent, then this assault should not have happened to you. Please do not feel embarrassed. We are here to support you in a sympathetic and understanding manner.

“We treat these offences very seriously and in almost every case the suspect is arrested and interviewed.

“Our dedicated team of officers looks at whether the suspect has behaved in a similar manner with previous or current partners. This has led to a number of successful outcomes both by strengthening the evidence considerably in that particular case and by providing extra support to the survivors from knowing they are not alone.“

Whilst this policy is improving the number of people successfully convicted at court, we are urging people to consider their vulnerability this party season and not put yourself in a position where you may be at risk from sexual assault.

For example, we all know that alcohol affects your alertness. Alcohol continues to be absorbed into your bloodstream long after you have stopped drinking. So consider having a soft drink occasionally to help you control the amount of alcohol you are consuming.

Please avoid going to pubs, clubs, or parties alone. If you are with friends, you can watch out for each other and make sure you all get home safely.

Think carefully before leaving the pub or club with someone you do not know very well. Ensure someone knows where you are and when you are expected home.

DI Young added “Rape and sexual assault can affect anyone, male or female, adult or child and there are a number of agencies in Warwickshire who are able to help and we would encourage any person affected to talk to an expert who can help them.

“We recognise that all victims should receive the very best possible care, whether or not they wish to report to the Police, and we are committed to the creation of a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Warwickshire. This is a place where people can report sexual assault, confidentially if they wish and benefit from health care and advice on pregnancy and related matters, and be looked after by trained crisis workers throughout the process.”

Safeline can be contacted on 01926 408315 www.safelinewarwick.co.uk

Rape or Sexual Abuse Support Project (RoSA) on 01788 551151 www.survivorguide.co.uk

Coventry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) Helpline 02476 277 777 www.crasac.org.uk

Terence Higgins Trust on 0247 622 9292 www.tht.org.uk

To report a rape or sexual assault to the police, please call 01926 415000. In an emergency dial 999.