POLICE in Hampshire have been working with Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks in a storyline centred around the issue of rape.
Detective Chief Inspector Ben Snuggs was sent to Cheshire to help with the storyline in which real members of the public were used to return a verdict.
In February, two of the programme’s most established characters, Gilly Roach and Jacqui McQueen, were shown going into a bedroom together, and Jacqui later reported she had been raped.
The details of what happened in the bedroom had been deliberately left unclear by the soap. The issue they wanted to explore is whether there was clear consent.
This subject is covered by Hampshire Constabulary’s Don’t Cross the Line campaign, which began in November 2009, and targets young men.
Det Ch Insp Snuggs, who leads the campaign, has been advising the team behind Hollyoaks on the legal issues relating to knowing what consent is and whether it is present when two people get together, and the difficulties that can arise in investigating these types of cases. On Friday viewers saw a jury find Gilly not guilty of rape.
Following the verdict, Det Ch Insp Snuggs said: ‘The challenges for people reporting rape offences and the emotional journey people go through has been well illustrated by the actors involved in this story so far.
‘It is a reality that verdicts at court are not always in the victim’s favour in these cases, but it is important to recognise that a court case is one part of the process.
‘For both the survivor and the offender there are long term consequences, which may affect them physically, mentally and emotionally.
‘This opportunity to work with a successful and popular programme such as Hollyoaks has been fantastic, and their messages around consent as part of this ongoing storyline mirror the work we have been doing as part of our Don’t Cross the Line campaign.
‘We want to raise awareness of the risks for men and women engaging in sexual activity when there may not be full consent, encourage people to talk more openly about this sensitive issue, and ultimately, prevent incidents occurring in the first place.’
A representative from Hollyoaks said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary have been a huge help and support to Hollyoaks with their Don’t Cross the Line campaign which highlights the importance of consent, an issue at the centre of the Hollyoaks rape storyline.
‘Hollyoaks will continue to work with Don’t Cross the Line to educate the youth audience on the importance of consent.’