A campaign to reduce sexual violence in bars and clubs across Liverpool City Centre has been launched today in partnership with LJMU.
Merseyside Police together with Liverpool City Council, Liverpool University, LJMU and voluntary sector partners including Safe Place Merseyside, the Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre and Red Umbrella have joined together to launch the ‘KNOW’ campaign.
The initiative sees bar and club staff trained to prevent sexual assaults and support victims. This will be complemented by the display of 2,000 posters across different venues and a social media campaign supported by all partners in the group.
About a quarter of sexual assaults take place in bars and clubs but experts say this figure could be much higher due to a lack of reporting. Since April 2019, 153 bar staff and 10 venues including city centre clubs and bars have received free sexual violence training delivered by the partnership.
No means no
City councillor Liz Parsons, cabinet member for partnerships and community safety, said: “This is much more than a publicity campaign. It is about making sure people know that unwanted sexual contact is a crime, and that any allegation will be taken seriously.
“Working with our partners we are also including training for bar staff in the city centre in how to prevent assaults and support victims. We want to change the culture to make sure unwanted sexual contact is never tolerated or excused in Liverpool, so that people know that no does mean no.”
Superintendent Diane Pownall, Merseyside Police, said: “Sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact is a crime. Together we are committed to raising awareness across Liverpool city centre and spreading the message that these crimes will not be tolerated and could lead to a prison sentence for the offender.
“As the festive season commences, we want to ensure that everybody can enjoy a night out in the city centre without unwanted attention. This is a great city and we want to ensure a safe night out for everyone.”
Speaking at an event to launch the poster campaign at McCooley’s Bar in Concert Square, Yvonne Turnbull, director of student advice and wellbeing at LJMU and co-chair of the student safety city group, said: “It is really important that we make students feel safe not only in campus but in the city and this campaign links well with work we are doing to prevent sexual violence on a broader level.
“Crucially, a lot of the messaging is aimed at potential perpetrators so the pressure should fall on them to change their behaviour and not on victims to change theirs.”
Liverpool City Council have worked alongside RASA Merseyside to provide a free package to train bar staff to help victims of sexual violence.
Shelly Stoops, Service Lead, Red Umbrella at Changing Lives, said: “It’s about ensuring that we spread the message that any unwanted sexual contact is a crime and there is no hiding place for perpetrators of sexual violence in Liverpool, No means No.”
IMAGE: Caitlin Hare, John Moores Students' Union with Yvonne Turnbull, Director of Student Support and Wellbeing at LJMU in McCooley's Bar.
Notes to editors
Analysis presented to the partnership group by Merseyside Police has shown that for the period April 2018 – March 2019:-
98% of offenders who committed an act of sexual violence were male, with 71% aged 18-45
84% of victims were female, with 56% age 18-35
Over a quarter of all sexual violence in Liverpool occurs in the city centre
ONS have recently reported that increases in sexual violence are thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to report offences
Trends in sexual offences are very similar to violence offences, increasing towards the weekend and night time hours