Police sorry for 'appalling' rape campaign poster

Police chiefs have been forced to apologise to anti-rape campaigners after a poster campaign warning women of the dangers of leaving themselves more vulnerable to sex attacks drew criticism.

West Mercia Police sparked fury with their controversial Safe Night Out poster campaign which warned women not to "leave yourself vulnerable to regretful sex or even rape."

The posters show a picture of a smiling woman above a another shot of her lying unconscious and barefoot with her dress riding up her thighs.

The warning on the poster reads: "Don't let a night full of promise turn into a morning full of regrets."

Beneath the woman's prostrate figure, the poster states: "Don't leave yourself more vulnerable to regretful sex or even rape. Drink sensibly and get home safely."

Another poster aimed at men has also sparked fury - because it only says they "could" be breaking the law if someone hasn't given them consent for sex.

Police chiefs were forced to apologise after anti-rape campaigners expressed outrage at the campaign, branding it "appalling".

Jocelyn Anderson, chief officer at Worcestershire Rape and Sexual Assault Support Centre (WRSASC), said: "There is no could be about it - that's rape - and to put regretful sex and rape together is appalling.

"The problem was the poster put the blame on to alcohol and women who are raped, suggesting if they didn't drink they could avoid rape.

"It's not alcohol that causes rape, although it's a vulnerability factor, it's rapists that cause rape.

"We are now in a really sad situation where we can't support a police campaign."

Hundreds of the posters were put up in pubs in West Mercia Police force's area last month.

To support their campaign, the force also released a video featuring a female rape victim - in a bid to encourage women to cut down on how much they drink on a night out.

During the video the victim says she wishes to make others aware of the dangers of drinking too much, which she believes played a part in her attack.

Her account ends with her saying that she has now learnt to drink less and stay in control.

Detective Superintendent Ivan Powell, has apologised for the campaign.

He said: "If the campaign has caused distress, that was not our aim and I will apologise for that.

"This was not about blaming victims but putting information out to help.

"I understand there have been some concerns about the nature of the poster but I would stress what we are trying to do here is putting information out showing potential victims how to avoid becoming vulnerable."