SUSSEX Police has apologised after its anti-rape campaign poster was criticised for blaming victims.
Police began their campaign to prevent serious sexual offences by encouraging friends to stay together with a new poster.
The poster read: “Which one of your mates is most vulnerable on a night out? The one you leave behind.”
This led to a backlash of criticism followed by a withdrawal and formal apology from the police.
Detective Superintendent Paul Furnell, head of public protection, said: “The way we have gone about this campaign has caused some concern. This was not the intention of our message and for that I apologise.
“We have listened to our partners and we have reached the decision to foreshorten this particular part of the campaign.
“The posters were not intended in any way to blame victims. I understand the concerns that have been raised about the poster and they will be withdrawn. I would like to stress that 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 and will continue a campaign that will focus on rape and sexual offences that will deal with consent, perpetrators, prevention, awareness, education and vulnerability.”
James Rowlands, strategic commissioner for domestic and sexual violence for Brighton & Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council, welcomed the decision and said he was now looking forward to working with the police in the future. He said they had a ‘shared commitment’ to supporting victims, raising awareness about consent and holding to account those who committed rape or sexual assault.