The Police Service of Northern Ireland, in conjunction with a range of partner agencies including Nexus, Public Prosecution Service and Students’ Unions both at Queen’s and Ulster University, have today , Wednesday 3 October, launched a new sexual consent awareness campaign entitled No Grey Zone.
No Grey Zone aims to raise awareness of what sexual assault is and what sexual consent is. The campaign wants to equip society, and in particular young people, with the knowledge and skills that will help to empower and safeguard them.
Discussing the campaign, Head of the Public Protection Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman said: “Over the past number of years we have seen an increase in the number of sexual crimes being reported and we wanted to develop a campaign to educate young people about sexual consent and send the clear message that there is No Grey Zone.
“The campaign is specifically aimed at the target audience of 16 to 28 year olds. It uses clear language to give examples of sexual assault and brings the topic into the open in an unapologetic way. It is robust and fact based. We want people to hear and understand this message and start talking about sexual consent.
“As part of the campaign we have launched the No Grey Zone website – www.nogreyzone.com which is available to everyone to learn more about sexual assault and sexual consent, to find the truth about myths around sexual assault and to easily access information about support.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Hilman continued: “As part of our research for the campaign we worked closely with Queen’s Students’ Union and the findings from their Stand Together Report which showed that just over 4% of students who said they had been sexually assaulted reported it to the police. Half of those assaulted hadn’t told anyone about their experience.
“It is vital that every single person in our society understands what sexual assault and consent is.
“We want a society where people feel supported and empowered to speak out when a sexual assault occurs.
“I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of any sexual crime either recently or in the past to contact police or to speak to someone about what has happened.
“We want you to know that if you take the brave step of reporting it to police, you will be listened to, respected, treated sensitively, have your report thoroughly investigated and you will be signposted to support services.
“Now is the time to start talking about sexual consent. Now is the time to challenge myths around sexual consent and sexual assault. Now is the time to bring sexual consent into the open and have frank conversations. Now is the time to be part of the No Grey Zone.”
Discussing the Campaign, Cara Cash-Marley, Chief Executive, Nexus NI said “The No Grey Zone campaign is we hope the start of a movement. It is the beginning of a changed conversation for Northern Ireland. We and our partners in the Police Service of Northern Ireland are very firmly communicating our collaborative commitment to breaking the silence on sexual violence.
“We are saying the victim is never at fault. We are saying we are all here to help and we are saying there is No Grey Zone.”
Welcoming the Campaign, Sinéad Henry, Student Officer Welfare, Queen’s Students' Union said “The Students’ Union recognises the vital importance of consent awareness. We have worked hard to ensure consent is a core part of what we do - providing information, improving policy and running consent workshops with students. I am hopeful this campaign will show that consent is important to the PSNI and to Queen’s Students’ Union and that it is vital to receive it before making any sexual contact. Queen’s Students’ Union is here to support students, and my door is always open to any student who needs advice and support, because when it comes to consent, there is No Grey Zone.”