Police in the North West say they are concerned over the number of reports of sexual assaults in social settings that have been received this year.
Between the end of September and the middle of November, 17 reports of sexual assault have been received in the Foyle, Limavady, Magherafelt and Strabane areas.
Detective Chief Inspector James Mullen said the figures were concerning.
“We have received reports of incidents in licensed premises, at house parties, in 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.”
In social settings, there are a number of steps people can take to minimise the risks to themselves:
• 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
• Don’t drink too much alcohol and keep an eye on the amount your friends are drinking. Consuming large amounts of alcohol or taking illicit drugs can make you vulnerable and could put you at risk of a serious sexual offence, or rape
• Don’t let friends go off alone with someone, or do something they wouldn’t normally do. And don’t get yourself into a situation where you are isolated away from other people. Stay in a group
• 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, don’t leave your 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, please tell the police or an independent support agency, such as Women’s Aid. We can ensure that you get proper support from our trained officers and medical professionals.
• 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.