Great Britain

Police flyers linking rape to alcohol intake were given to students ‘in error’, force says

Leaflets that link rape to alcohol consumption were distributed to university students in error, police in Northern Ireland have said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) apologised after the “victim-blaming” flyers were circulated to students at Ulster University over the weekend.

The leaflet reads: “Alcohol is the number one rape drug. How much have you taken already?”

It also advises people to “say no to any sex you don’t want” and “make yourself clearly understood”.

An internal investigation has been launched to determine why the flyers, which the PSNI say were discontinued a number of years ago, were distributed, a police spokesperson told The Independent.

“We have identified the source of these leaflets as having been shared by officers in error,” the spokesperson said.

“Clear internal messaging has now been circulated across the entire service to ensure that any remaining flyers are destroyed.”

But in 2020, the force promised to destroy the same flyers after they were distributed in Belfast.

Karen Sweeney, from the Rape Crisis Network, said that the flyers’s re-emergence is “unfortunate”.

“Assurances were given almost two years ago now that they were going to be taken out of circulation and destroyed,” she told BBC Radio Foyle.

“How they’ve resurfaced at the Magee campus is very unfortunate.

“They have apologised now and I hope they do follow through in ensuring these leaflets are destroyed because they highlight victim-blaming and rape myths that are perpetuated across society.”

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch said that the messaging on the leaflet “does not in any way reflect how we view or treat victims of sexual crime”.

He added: “We want to issue a sincere apology for any offence or hurt caused by this error and take this opportunity to reiterate that if you are a victim of a sexual crime and if you choose to speak to us, you will be listened to, respected and treated sensitively.

“The only people responsible for rape are rapists. There is no defence for sexual crimes of any kind.”

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