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9 November 2011, 06:00
''Don't let a night full of promise turn into a morning full of regret'' - that's the main message to partygoers across Hertfordshire as part of a new campaign to address rape and sexual assaults in the county.
The campaign is reminding men and women to drink sensibly on a night out to help avoid life changing consequences. Although Hertfordshire remains a safe place to enjoy a great night out, excess drinking can leave you more vulnerable to sex you might regret or becoming a victim of rape.
Led by the County Community Safety Unit (the joint unit between Hertfordshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service), the initiative will also be highlighting how seriously allegations of sexual assault and rape are taken by the police. This includes being arrested, and if convicted, being placed on the sex offenders register, losing your job and not being allowed to travel to a number of foreign countries.
From November 11, and continuing on weekends until at least the New Year, officers from the Constabulary will be carrying out extra patrols in town centres across Hertfordshire to help raise awareness of drinking safely and to encourage clubbers to get home safely.
Assistant Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, who is overseeing the campaign, said: ''We're not trying to stop anyone enjoying themselves, we just want people to take care and not put themselves at risk because they?ve drunk too much and put themselves in a position they would not normally do.
''We know that rape and sexual assaults have such devastating and long lasting consequences on people's lives, whether they're a victim, family member, or a perpetrator. It's so important to stay in control of your actions and not letting a night full of promise and fun turn into a morning and even lifetime of regret.''
Simple measures can help make a great and safe night out. This includes planning how you are going to get home before you go out, alternating alcoholic drinks with soft ones, staying with your friends and always taking a licensed taxi home.
To help further illustrate the potentially life changing consequences of an alcohol-fuelled night, a rape victim has taken the brave steps to share her ordeal, in a bid to encourage other women to cut down on how much they drink on a night out, by being filmed for a video on the Constabulary's YouTube channel
Jon continued: ''Remember, if a partner has not given their consent for sex or touching, you will be arrested and face the consequences of your actions.''
In Hertfordshire there is specialist help and support for victims of sexual assault and rape. Victims can self-refer themselves to the Sexual Referral Central Centre via 0808 178 4448 or by visiting www.herts.police.uk. The centre offers a clean and comfortable environment where victims are supported by trained Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, who will talk them through the options that are available to them and they can choose whether they want to involve the police or not. Specialist information and support is also available via www.hertssunflower.org.
Councillor Richard Thake, Executive Member for Community Safety, said: ''We know that Hertfordshire is a safe place for people to enjoy themselves, however, when these incidents do occur, they can have such dreadful ramifications and change people?s lives forever. I really hope people take on board the important messages from this campaign and take the steps to have a good but safe night out.''
David Lloyd, Chairman of the Hertfordshire Police Authority commented: ''It is important that people feel they can enjoy a night out in Hertfordshire, and be safe. Although we want to encourage men and women to be aware of their actions, and not do anything they will regret, we also want to reassure anyone who is a victim of a sexual assault that they will be taken seriously and supported.''