Sussex Police drop 'victim-blaming' poster after complaints

Campaign poster Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption The force said the poster had been "well-intentioned"

Sussex Police is dropping a poster campaign intended to prevent rape and serious sexual offences after it was criticised for "victim-blaming".

Campaigners said the image reinforced a message that victims, not attackers, were to blame in sexual assault cases.

Twitter users also voiced complaints about the "upsetting" posters and called for them to be taken down.

Police apologised and said the posters encouraging friends to stay together were not intended to blame victims.

Women's rights campaigner Celia Wilson had said the campaign should focus on the behaviour of perpetrators.

"We still live in a world where women get told that they can't walk home on their own but men are absolutely fine to do so," she said.


Det Supt Paul Furnell of Sussex Police said the force understood the concerns and had decided with its "partners" to end the poster campaign.

He said: "The posters were well-intentioned with the sole aim of preventing people becoming victims of crime.

"Sussex Police is determined to continue to raise awareness of this issue and, with the support of partners, target those who seek to exploit and abuse vulnerable people.

"Together we are committed to tackling all violence against women, girls, men and boys."

The campaign to prevent rape and sexual offences would continue by focusing on "consent, perpetrators, prevention, awareness, education and vulnerability," he added.

James Rowlands, strategic commissioner for domestic and sexual violence for Brighton & Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council, welcomed the decision.

He said: "I look forward to working with [Sussex Police] in the future as we, and our partners in Sussex, have a shared commitment to supporting victims, raising awareness about consent and most importantly holding to account those who commit rape or sexual assault."

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