Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Festive police campaigns, rape and drink driving

At this time of year, it is usual for UK police forces to publicise their festive campaigns. We've done some research with the help of our twitter followers and the internet, and this is what we have found. We've picked out some highlights - some good, some bad and some absolutely dreadful and we're hoping to be able to repeat this report each year. We might even develop a league table!

Avon & Somerset This campaign contains the usual advice; book a taxi to get home, don't drink excessive alcohol, keeping an eye on who is buying your drinks. It seems to have become the norm for these campaigns focus on women - women should be watchful, more careful, not drunk, but we also noticed some focus on (prospective) perpetrators in this campaign:


As police campaigns go, this one is a good one. It's clear that some thought went into the homework.

Cleveland Police don't have campaign that is specifically about sexual violence and the festive season, but they are taking part in the national 'In Focus' campaign on rape, supported by the Association for Chief of Police (ACPO). One comment in the press release stood out:

“I would also like to warn anyone tempted to target someone who is perhaps vulnerable through drink or through having been separated from their friends, that we will always do everything possible to bring perpetrators before the courts.”

We would like Cleveland Police (and others) to understand that not all women want to report their rape to the police, and so maybe their campaign could focus on education and prevention of rape. They could do this by taking their preventative message to perpetrators and prospective perpetrators - who, after all, are the only ones who can actually stop rape.

Cleveland Police - you're barely scraping a Satisfactory. Must try harder.

Cumbria Police are working in conjunction with other forces, have the 'Keys, money, phone, plans to get home' campaign. We couldn't find a specific reference to women, but look at the image they're using:


Handbag. Check. Lipstick print. Check. Wine Glass. Check. Predominantly pink so the women know it's for them? Check.

Cumbria - it's a D minus for you.

Dorset Police have this to say about their campaign:

The campaign aims to prevent alcohol-related rapes and sexual assaults by encouraging people to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime by ensuring they follow personal safety advice.

'Alcohol-related rapes'. We know perpetrators deliberately target women who have been consuming alcohol - this is not about women drinking. It is about the perpetrators of rape targeting a vulnerable victim.

Dorset Police - you are currently bottom of the class.

Northumbria Police are using the same 'Keys, money, phone, plans to get home' campaign as Cumbria, but they have a video on their website to encourage you to remember this snappy phrase:

It only has women in it.(YouTube clip)

Northumbria Police - we were hoping for better from you. Hopefully, the launch of your Violence Against Women & Girls strategy will see a focus on perpetrators in time for our next report.

South Yorkshire Police have a general Christmas campaign that does have a perpetrator focus. However, as with many of these, they imply that it is increased alcohol consumption that causes rape. This is simply not true.

South Yorkshire police - we're issuing you with a Notice to Improve.

West Mercia and Warwickshire have a joint campaign - Stop Rape Now. Considering how badly West Mercia have performed previously, this is an enormous improvement.

The campaign is heavily focused on the behaviour of perpetrators and has taken them to the top of the class.


West Yorkshire have another one of those 'festive crime prevention' campaigns that focuses wholly on women.

We know West Yorkshire police are implying risk by using this image:

We want you home safe

Repeat after us, West Yorkshire police. Rapists are the only ones who can stop rape. Rapists are the only ones who can stop rape. Rapists... You get the idea.

We had high hopes for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) because they are publicising a video that you think is going to be wholly about women, but then focuses on the perpetrator. Clever.

Then we saw this:

PSNI, sit down. You're staying behind for a lesson on the behaviour of rapists.

North Wales Police are also worried about our safety.

Remember, nothing will turn you into a potential victim quicker or more effectively than alcohol

Really, North Wales? We know you can do better than this. You're just not trying hard enough.

South Wales Police are all about the scare tactics, just look at that font!. And the obligatory 'falling for the usual rape myths' nonsense, of course.

xmas alone

South Wales police, you are last alphabetically and we think it is fitting that you've ended up at the bottom of our class. You're heading towards Special Measures.

When we were gathering this information, we looked at all of the 45 police forces. Some didn't have specific festive 'safety' or 'anti-rape' campaigns. We did however notice that all of the forces have a Drink Driving Campaign and we think it's interesting how these are phrased so differently to the anti-rape campaigns. In all of the drink driving campaigns, the focus is on the perpetrator. 'One drink could be one too many' 'Drink Driving - it's not worth the risk' 'No limit is a safe limit'.

Most of these slogans were accompanied by an image of a car accident, or someone in a police cell. All of them, without fail, focused wholly on the decision to get behind the wheel, made by the driver who had consumed alcohol.

None of them said 'Pedestrians! Stay at home in case there is a drunk driver in your area'. Nor did they say 'Families - leave the car on the drive tonight, there might be a drunk driver about'. Not one of them mentioned that ordinary people, going about their ordinary business, having an ordinary life, should change their behaviour to avoid the risk of crossing the path of another ordinary person, who happens to be a drunk driver.

We hope that UK police forces will reflect on the message that this sends. The constant comparisons to acquisitive crime are frustrating and don't make any sense. Victims are not possessions, they are not things to be 'owned' that could be 'stolen'.

All of the police forces in England, Wales & Northern Ireland would do well to look at their counterparts in Scotland. They are our leaders today & we award them a well-deserved Outstanding.

We've gathered our information from the current UK police Christmas/festive campaigns. If your local force has a festive campaign, add the details to the comments.

*Updated 13.12.13*

It seems that Nottinghamshire Police have taken the A* for bad taste in their festive anti-rape campaign.

Content Note for image below:

notts police


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12 thoughts on “Festive police campaigns, rape and drink driving

  • Cath Elliott says:

    As part of Suffolk Police’s rape awareness festive campaign: “Officers will be speaking to women and handing out cards which actively urge them stick together and look out for each other, as well as pre-arrange safe transport home.”

    Mind you it’s not surprising, considering the first key message of their Rape: Time to Stop campaign was:

    “Look after yourself and stick with your friends when out and about, don’t let alcohol cloud your judgement and always arrange safe travel home.”

    • Admin says:

      Oh. “Women – keep other women safe”. Not helpful.

      Thanks for contributing, we’ll have a closer look when we update the piece nearer to Christmas.

  • Judi Sutherland says:

    Worse even than these is Oxfordshire County Council’s video, which berates women for having too much to drink and looking a bit silly, while saying NOTHING to men who have a skinful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CLi5OKSS4w&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D_CLi5OKSS4w&app=desktop

    I can’t think what it has got to do with them.

    • Admin says:

      We tweeted that earlier – just appalled. We’d love a post for the website on it, if you have time.

      If you’re going to complain, we’re happy to post your complaint, if that’s easier (we’re aware that everyone is time pressured at the moment!)

      Thanks for sending it to us.

  • Hecuba says:

    ‘Keeping yourself safe is about being SMART
    Say no to any sex you don’t want
    Make yourself clearly understood’

    This was from the Police Services of Northern Ireland website and according to PSNI women need only say ‘no to sex you don’t want and/or just make yourself clearly understood’ and hey presto the male/males intent on enacting their male pseudo sex right to women’s bodies will magically accept the woman’s no! Despite fact this advice is ‘gender neutral’ we know it is not directed at men because it is overwhelmingly males who are the ones sexually preying on women not the reverse or even males sexually preying on other males.

    PSNI need to urgently undergo in depth education on how males who enact their pseudo sex right to women ignore what the woman is say because male sex right to females is sacrosanct! Also males do understand when the woman has no sexual interest in the male but as usual males make the choice to ignore the woman because his sexual demands supercede her right of ownership of her body.

    PSNI – gold star for promoting misogynistic rape myths.

  • Redskies says:

    Instead of keeping women safe, these police campaigns are actively endangering them. This is not difficult to understand. what is difficult to understand is how police and media cannot grasp what they are doing.

    To repeat my comment on the “Comparing Acquisitive Crime to Rape
    ” submission:

    By laying out a set of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” behaviours, victim blaming tells rapists that they can target certain women with impunity, that if they rape certain women, society will justify their crime.

    Every time police or journalists “helpfully” tell women that they risk rape by drinking alcohol, I see police and journalists actually instructing rapists to just make sure that the women they plan to rape have drunk alcohol so that they (the rapists) can be free of any concerns that they might face punishment or even condemnation for their crime.

    • Admin says:

      Yes! We’ve added it at the end of the piece & one of our team is on Channel 4 News discussing it this evening.

      We can see what Notts Police were trying to do, but my goodness it’s a spectacular fail!

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  • Chris says:

    Drink driving is such an important issue and one that seems to be only round once a year (Christmas). I personally believe it should be an all year round campaign as the dangers of drink driving aren’t worth thinking about.

    These statistics back up my point of the dangers of drink driving. Maybe even if you have a drop of alcohol, then you shouldn’t be driving as it will have an impact either on your reaction time or sense of driving.

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