The PSNI has said a festive-themed tweet sent from its account about rape has been taken out of context, after being criticised by social media users.
A message was posted on the police force’s twitter account on Saturday which read: “If you bump into that special someone under the mistletoe tonight, remember that without consent it is rape.”
The message was signed “seasons greetings”.
The tweet soon drew criticism online, with some social media users writing that it was being flippant about sexual violence and questioning whether it was appropriate.
The PSNI’s tweet was later deleted.
In a further tweet posted on Sunday, the PSNI wrote: “We posted a message on Twitter yesterday that some may have taken out of context, but the message remains the same; when you are out socialising over the Christmas period, please remember without consent it is rape.”
The PSNI has previously faced backlash for social media postings about sexual violence, when in March the Newry and Mourne division posted an image of a distressed woman under the caption “without consent it is rape” and a message warning people not to “overindulge”.
Some social media users raised concerns that the message amounted to “victim blaming” by potentially implying that it is the responsibility of women to prevent rape by not drinking too much.
The “without consent it is rape” campaign was launched by the PSNI in 2013 to publicise the law on sexual offences in Northern Ireland.