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As party season gets under way, the West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner, Nicky Brennan, has warned potential offenders that there is no excuse for abuse when out and about at clubs and bars across the region.

An influx of work outings and festive celebrations will be a welcome boost for local businesses, but partygoers are urged to think carefully about their behaviour, particularly towards women, and to stop themselves before crossing the line in these spaces, on the street, and on public transport.

To support the message, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, has launched his latest No Excuse For Abuse campaign today, with messaging on a number of digital billboards across the West Midlands.

A new website, specifically for the West Midlands, has also been launched. This central hub provides guidance for victims of abuse of any kind, directing them towards vital information and the support services available in their area. It will continue to be updated regularly, with useful resources and further information about the No Excuse For Abuse campaigns, to help people across the region to explore ways of engaging with the important work being done.

The renewed call for a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour in clubs and bars follows the Victims’ Commissioner’s pledge, to support the Stamp Out Spiking petition.

Spiking – in various forms – remains prevalent throughout the UK, but is not currently a named criminal offence. It is recorded by police as other specific offence codes, such as The Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 or The Sexual Offences Act 2003. The petition urged the Home Secretary to rectify this and explore making spiking an offence, in its own right.

The West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner said: “December is one of my favourite times of the year, not least because of the many celebrations and parties. It should be, and can be, a time of great joy. But it’s also a time when we see a rise in sexual assaults and harassment in bars and clubs.

“There is never an excuse for abuse of any kind. We need to rid ourselves of any notion that it is just a part of ‘going out’ at Christmas. What some people might think of as harmless fun or banter is actually a serious criminal offence that has a horrific impact on its victim, and it takes all of us to eradicate it for good.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster added: “We all enjoy meeting up with family, friends and colleagues in the run up to Christmas, but sadly this leads to a rise in sexual assaults and harassment, when people are out and about, with the intention of enjoying themselves.

“There is no excuse for abuse. It is everyone’s responsibility to play their part in ensuring the Christmas party season is a time for celebration, happiness and joy and not a time for abuse, intimidation and violence.”

The Victims’ Commissioner further explained that everyone has a part to play in ending violence against women, and asked partygoers to be upstander for women’s safety, by calling out or reporting anyone they see acting inappropriately towards others.

There is more than one way to intervene in a situation, it doesn’t have to be a confrontation.

People can notify someone else, for example, a bartender or a police officer, or, if they feel comfortable doing so, speak to the person behaving inappropriately, directly in a safe manner.

If you feel there is a likely threat of violence towards the victim or yourself, you need to prioritise the safety and welfare of you both and you should then contact the police, by calling 999.

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