As the Christmas party season gets into full swing and our region’s bars and clubs fill up, we are reminding people that sexual assault should not be considered a routine part of a night out.
A survey of 100 people, carried out on Friday night by officers in the Park Street, Waterfront and Triangle areas of Bristol revealed that 75 had been touched inappropriately whilst in a licenced premises in the city and of those people, only four had reported it.
The types of assaults that people described included bottom slapping, groping in the genitalia area, up skirting, people grinding closely behind, groping of breasts and people dancing too close.
Comments on how it made people feel included “disgusted and angry”, “powerless”, “really vulnerable and angry”, “scared and frustrated” and “it’s just part of going out.”
The reasons people gave for not reporting it, either to us or to the venue’s staff, included that that they thought it was a waste of police time, or that they didn’t think anything would happen.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I commended Lottie last summer when she bravely raised this issue and encouraged others to talk about it. I am saddened to hear that this sort of behaviour is still so widespread and that people don’t feel confident to report incidents.
“Groping, grabbing, touching – these are all sexual assault. Sexual assault is a crime and will not be tolerated on any level in Avon and Somerset. No one has the right to touch another person in this way and I’m pleased to see that the police, our partners and the local bars and clubs are coming together to tackle this unacceptable behaviour.
“Only by working together can we stop this from happening, challenge perpetrators and encourage victims to come forward and report and ultimately help to make events a better place to be for all who want to enjoy them."
Detective Superintendent Marie Wright, force lead for rape and sexual assault said: “We first launched this campaign in the summer of 2017, after a brilliant young woman called Lottie came forward to talk about just how common this type of assault had become for her and her friends.
“I am quite shocked and upset to learn that this behaviour is still widespread and considered a normal part of a night out and also worried that so few people are reporting it.
“Nobody has the right to touch someone in this way without their consent. The people who do this may think it’s a laugh, but they are wrong. It is sexual assault, and it is unacceptable and there will be consequences for anyone who behaves like this in our licensed premises.
“I would encourage anyone who experiences this kind of assault to tell someone. It doesn’t have to be the police, although we will always listen and act when people do report these incidents to us. Remember you can tell the bar or door staff, there and then, who can support you and take action against the person or people who assaulted you. Even if you don’t know who assaulted you, you can still tell someone and things can be done to help you.”
We are working collaboratively with partners including Bristol Women’s Voice, who are encouraging venues to sign up to the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative, working with businesses in the night time economy to address sexual assault and harassment and to become safer spaces for those on a night out. When venues sign up their staff can received specialist Good Night Out training on how to deal with harassment and assault, and how to support their customers.
Det Supt Wright added: “Ultimately, if the people who do this know they’re likely to be kicked out, then that’s their night ruined and they may think twice about doing it again in the future.”
You can report a sexual assault to the police online or by calling 101. If a crime is in progress or in an emergency always call 999.
For more advice and support, visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org
Posted on Monday 10th December 2018