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14 May 2015, 14:41
Sussex Police has been training Brighton's nightclub bouncers in preventing sexual assault.
More than 25 people who work in door security attended a briefing session on Thursday morning at Pryzm nightclub in West Street.
Chief Inspector Katy Woolford briefed staff on how they can help spot vulnreable people and take action if needed.
The force also wants to give doorstaff the confidence to intervene when they see predatory behaviour.
In Brighton, during the 12 months to the end of March 2015, 247 recorded rapes or other serious sexual offences took place during the evening or night. They represent 68% of the total of all such offences committed in the city during that year.
The training is part of a continuing awareness campaign aimed at reducing sexual violence which will continue later this year.
Other messages focus specifically on the issues of consent, steps people can take to look after themselves and each other, and on the perpetrators, who are always responsible for their actions. These are still important issues and police will continue to focus on them.
The force recently faced criticism for a poster campaign that was seen as 'victim-blaming', but they are keen to stress that is not they message they want to convey.
Chief Inspector Katy Woolford said: "For this phase of the campaign, after months of research and talking to partner agencies and people working within the night-time economy, we're working on finding ways of encouraging people to intervene when someone appears to be vulnerable or at risk to predatory behaviour. Door supervisors, taxi drivers, bar staff and groups of friends, or the wider passing public, can take steps to intervene or get help.
"Although the majority of sexual assault is perpetrated by partners, ex-partners and acquaintances, our large towns have a vibrant night-time economy, and a relatively low average age. The combination of these can lead to increased vulnerability."
Key messages to staff receiving the training include:
- A vulnerable person is anyone exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally;
- Vulnerabilty can arise from issues such as drugs, alcohol, being alone, approaches by sexual predators;
- How to look out for signs of vulnerability and take action; some options to consider are - reuniting them with friends, assistance from street pastors or marshals, or sending to a nearby safe place that can assist, and making contact with family or the police.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has funded the vulnerability awareness training sessions across Sussex in May and June for officers and staff, and for other people who work in the night-time economy locally.
Katy Bourne said: "I believe that everyone should be able to enjoy a night out in the many vibrant towns in Sussex without coming to any harm. However, people sometimes get into situations without necessarily appreciating that they have made themselves vulnerable. We all have a social responsibility to protect and support these people so that no harm will come to them.
"The forthcoming training will enable those working in the night-time economy to spot the signs of vulnerability as well as potential predatory behaviour and how to overcome the barriers that can stop some of us from intervening."
Sarah Morris, Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) co-ordinator, who has helped to arrange the Brighton training, said: "The BCRP has also been working with door staff to promote their duty of care to help reduce sexual offences in the night time economy.
"Through training and briefings the BCRP is trying to ensure that those working in the night time economy are not only identifying vulnerable individuals but also those who could exploit them.
"Door staff in Brighton have been responsible for some fantastic duty of care work over the past few months and this strand of training provided by Sussex Police will continue to raise this awareness and further develop the ability to truly make a difference."