WOMEN and men are being urged to protect themselves against rape when out enjoying the Christmas festivities.

The warning comes from police as traditionally there is an increase in reported rapes over the Christmas period, of which almost half (45 per cen

WOMEN and men are being urged to protect themselves against rape when out enjoying the Christmas festivities.

The warning comes from police as traditionally there is an increase in reported rapes over the Christmas period, of which almost half (45 per cent) are alcohol-related.

Detective Inspector Debbie Howard said: "People shouldn't be worried about going out and having a good time but it is always important to take sensible precautions such as drinking in moderation and staying with friends.

"Christmas should be a memorable time when people enjoy socialising and catching up with friends and family. However, this could potentially be ruined if people drink too much or leave themselves vulnerable to a criminal.

"All we ask is that people drink sensibly and stay safe by taking common-sense precautions."

To reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime, people are asked to plan their night in advance by thinking about how they are getting home.

While out, revellers should guard against having their drinks spiked. To be safe, people should never leave their drink unattended or accept a drink from anyone they do not know or have only just met.

People should also look after their friends and if someone appears to be unusually intoxicated they should not be left alone.