Rise in sexual assaults a cause for concern


Police in the North West say they are concerned about the number of reports of sexual assaults in social settings received this year.

From the end of September to mid-November, there were 17 reports of sexual assault in the Foyle, Limavady, Magherafelt and Strabane areas.

Detective Chief Inspector James Mullen said police had received reports of incidents in licensed premises, house parties, private homes and in public places; “The incidents have included sexual assault, indecent assault and rape. Any sexual assaults have the potential for long lasting consequences for the victims and their families. Whether it is in a social or domestic setting there is a simple principle before engaging in any sexual contact; if both parties do not consent then it is wrong and it is illegal.”

There are a number of steps people can take to minimise the risk: Arrange your transport to and from home before you go out for the night; make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be home; do not drink too much alcohol; keep an eye on the amount your friends are drinking; do not let friends go off alone with someone or do something they wouldn’t normally do; do not get into a situation where you are isolated from other people; do not walk alone in dark, unfamiliar areas.

If you need a lift home, arrange for someone to collect you, or take a licensed taxi. Although drink spiking is extremely rare, do not leave a drink unattended at any time and never accept a drink from someone you do not completely trust.

If someone attempts to engage you in sexual activity that is unwanted ‘say no’ and make it clear that you do not give your consent. Get away from the situation as soon as possible and tell someone about it. If you have been the subject of a sexual assault, tell the police or an independent support agency.

The police can ensure that you get proper support from trained officers and medical professionals, and if someone you know has been subject to a sexual offence you should encourage them to report it to police or an independent support agency, such as Women’s Aid.

Remember, call 999 in an emergency.

Anyone with information about a crime can contact police on the non-emergency number 101. You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.