As the summer festival season is well underway, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is sending out a strong message – that groping at music and other events will not be tolerated.
She is also urging music fans who are subjected to such assaults at concerts to report it straight away to ensure those responsible are caught and victims are offered appropriate support.
These important messages come following a survey conducted by local North East magazine, HEAVY, which found 58 per cent of respondents had personally been groped or sexually touched at a live music gig, without their consent. It also found that 63 per cent were aware of this happening to a friend.
Commissioner Baird, said: “Sexual assaults are assaults – calling it ‘groping’ doesn’t make it any less serious – and if you think it does, you’re wrong.
“In Northumbria, very few such incidents are reported so my message to anyone who has been subjected to this type of assault is to contact the police. If they are made aware they can do something about it. Whatever the circumstances, whether at a festival or concert, at work or on the bus – if you have been assaulted, you will be taken seriously and offered appropriate support.
“Those responsible need to realise what we’re talking about here is a criminal offence and police will take firm action. I have raised the issue with our Safeguarding Department and give my full support to our officers who will work with local music venues in tackling this unacceptable behaviour. It will not be tolerated.”
DCI Deborah Alderson from Northumbria Police’s Safeguarding Team said: “As these figures illustrate, there is clearly an issue and I want to stress that any form of assault - physical or sexual - whether on a tightly-packed dancefloor or not - will be taken very seriously by Northumbria Police.
“People might think this is just something that they expect to happen at a gig and accept it as the norm; well there is nothing normal about it and you don’t have to put up with it.
“It’s so important that fans who have been assaulted have the confidence to tell someone – speak to a member of security who is there at the venue – or call us directly. What we need is for fans who are victims of this sort of assault to bring it to our attention – so that we can make sure they are okay – and try and catch those responsible so we can put a stop to this unacceptable behaviour.”
Jamie Thomas, from magazine HEAVY who conducted the research, said: “Some people don’t realise this goes on, or think it’s extremely rare but this research makes it quite clear that far too many people have been groped or sexually assaulted at a gig and it’s something that could happen to anyone.
“Any action that can be taken to help keep fans safe at gigs is welcomed. The police have a role to play in this, and it’s very encouraging to know that Vera Baird and Northumbria Police take this issue seriously.”