HAMPSHIRE Constabulary has been working with one of the country’s most popular television soaps as part of a storyline about rape.

Hollyoaks is a Channel 4 soap opera that focuses on the lives of students, young people and their families living in a small village near Chester. It has been running since 1995.

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 have been deliberately left unclear by the soap. The issue they want to explore is not whether the pair engaged in intercourse, which they both admit they did, but whether there was clear consent.

This subject is at the heart of Hampshire Constabulary’s ‘Don’t cross the line’ campaign, which began in November 2009, and targets young men.

Detective Chief Inspector Ben Snuggs, who leads the campaign, has been advising the team behind Hollyoaks on the legal issues relating to consent, and the difficulties with investigating these cases.

He has also been interviewed by Anthony Quinlan, who plays Gilly in the soap, footage of which can be seen online.

Det Chief Insp Snuggs said: “This storyline represents an issue that we see all too often involving whether consent is clear on the part of both parties involved in sexual activity, particularly when alcohol or drugs are involved.

“The stereotype that rape is committed by strangers lurking around street corners just isn’t true in the majority of cases – it is committed by acquaintances, friends, or even partners.

“The campaign website gives the legal facts around rape, and really brings home the message about the consequences for men.

“We are very pleased to have this opportunity to work with Hollyoaks in promoting some very serious but relevant messages around this sensitive issue.”