POLICE are sending out the message that ‘rape shatters lives’ as part of a campaign against a rise in serious sexual assault during the festive season.

As part of ‘rape shatters lives - there is no excuse’, Cheshire Police is appealing to people to think about how their actions over the festive period can ruin lives.

Assistant Chief Constable Ruth Purdie said: “Our message is clear – anyone who uses force to have sex with another person is committing a criminal offence.

“Everyone has the right to say no to sex - without consent, sex with another person is rape.

"We want to reassure victims of rape that we are committed to getting justice for them.

“Rape is a distressing act and officers, when they are investigating allegations of rape, will not accept excuses from offenders for their actions.”

Since Cheshire Police’s Dedicated Rape Unit was established more than a year ago, there have been 313 cases of rape recorded and the detection rates for rape have risen by 5.7 per cent from June to November against last year’s figures.

ACC Purdie said: "We need to make it socially unacceptable for people to think that they can offer an excuse as a means of mitigating their actions when they are charged with an offence of rape or sexual assault.

“There are no excuses for rape or sexual violence and those who normalise, deny or blame the victim for their own actions must understand that making excuses for themselves or their friends who have used force to get ‘what they wanted’ will not be tolerated.”

To report a sexual offence or rape to the police, call 101 or 999 in an emergency.