What does having consent mean and why is it important?

Consent is defined as an agreement made by someone with the freedom and ability to decide something. Under the law, it is the person seeking consent who is responsible for ensuring that these conditions are met. Consent has to be given freely and no one can be made to consent to something. It’s not consent if someone does something because they feel they have to. You can also never assume that someone is giving consent – you have to be sure.

Consent is important in a relationship because consent means that you have given permission, and that someone has given you permission to engage in any intimate activity for sex. … Consent is an essential part of healthy relationships and it’s really important to know what it is and the many ways to spot it.

Someone doesn’t have the freedom and capacity to agree to sexual activity by choice if:

  • They are asleep or unconscious
  • They are incapacitated from drink or drugs, or have been ‘spiked’
  • They are pressured, manipulated, tricked or scared into saying ‘yes’
  • The other person is using physical force against them

Please bear in mind, however, these are just a few examples of what consent doesn’t look like.

If you don’t understand consent, or what actions may be considered non-consensual, watch the Thames Valley Police explain consent in this short video.

Withdrawing consent

You have the right to withdraw consent at any time and, when you do, you partner(s) should respect your wishes immediately and without question. Just because you have consented to one thing doesn’t mean you have consented to something else, and it’s completely OK to say no or stop at any point if you don’t want to continue. 

You don’t have to explain to your partner(s) why you have withdrawn consent if you don’t want to. And you can give consent again if your feelings change and you want to continue. 

The Home Office ‘Disrespect Nobody’ campaign provides more information advice and guidance. These pages have now been archived.

[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Disrespect NoBody | Find out about healthy relationships, relationship abuse, consent and more. (nationalarchives.gov.uk)

[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Disrespect NoBody | Consent | Advice on consent (nationalarchives.gov.uk)

Further information on recognising Consent

How to give and get consent – Brook

If you need help you can speak to one of the Designated Safeguarding Leads at Prostart or further information on getting help can be found here:

Prostart Designated Safeguarding Leads:-

Dawn Bridgett

Matthew Vaughan

Alternatively you can speak to your Learning & Development Coach or Tutor

Further information advice and guidance can be found on the Hot Topics Padlet Hot Topic – Safeguarding: Sexual Abuse, Harms and Harassment (padlet.com)

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