Police Apologise After Linking Rape To Alcohol Consumption In Flyer

by : Rhiannon Ingle on : 21 Sep 2021 09:56
Police Apologise After Linking Rape To Alcohol Consumption In Flyer (Alamy/@69mib_com/Twitter)Alamy/@69mib_com/Twitter

Officers have apologised after flyers linking rape to alcohol consumption have again been distributed in Northern Ireland. 

Leaflets showing a link to the sexual crime and drinking were recently distributed to university students in ‘error’.


Following the circulation of these ‘victim-blaming’ flyers around Ulster University, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has since apologised.

Police Apologise After Linking Rape To Alcohol Consumption In Flyer (Sara Haller)Sara Haller

In a big font, the leaflet reads, ‘Alcohol is the number one rape drug. How much have you taken already?’

On a separate page, the flyer also has a subheading of ‘Be SMART’ where an acrostic set of information follows. In this, the flyer advises readers to ‘Say no to any sex you don’t want’, ‘Make yourself clearly understood’, ‘Alcohol affects your judgement so watch what you drink’, ‘Rape stays with you for life’, and ends with ‘Take care of each other and don’t go off with someone you’ve just met.’


The PSNI is currently in the process of launching an internal investigation, The Independent reports.

Through this, they are attempting to find out why the flyers, which had previously been discontinued several years ago, have been distributed once again.

A spokesperson for the PSNI said, ‘We have identified the source of these leaflets as having been shared by officers in error.’


‘Clear internal messaging has now been circulated across the entire service to ensure that any remaining flyers are destroyed,’ they added.

However, the PSNI had reportedly already promised to ‘destroy’ the same flyers following a previous distribution in Belfast in 2020.

Karen Sweeney, who works with the Rape Crisis Network, has called the incident ‘unfortunate’. She told BBC Radio Foyle, ‘Assurances were given almost two years ago now that they were going to be taken out of circulation and destroyed.

‘They have apologised now and I hope they do follow through in ensuring these leaflets are destroyed because they highlight victim-blaming and rape myths that are perpetuated across society.’


Eamonn Corrigan, the Detective Superintendent from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch also commented on the flyer’s reemergence.

In a statement, Corrigan said the leaflet ‘does not in any way reflect how we view or treat victims of sexual crime’.

The Detective Superintendent went on to apologise on behalf of the PSNI for the incident, ‘We want to issue a sincere apology for any offence or hurt caused by this error and take this opportunity to reiterate that if you are a victim of a sexual crime and if you choose to speak to us, you will be listened to, respected and treated sensitively.’


‘The only people responsible for rape are rapists. There is no defence for sexual crimes of any kind,’ he concluded.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas

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Topics: News, Northern Ireland, Police, Rape


The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Police flyers linking rape to alcohol intake were given to students ‘in error’, force says