A police force has apologised after it appeared to joke about rape.
Merseyside Police has been criticised for its response to a tweet sent to the force’s official Twitter account after Everton’s 6-2 victory over Sunderland.
A Twitter user wrote: “Hello. I’d like to report an incident of rape that occurred at Goodison Park, Liverpool, on November 1 at 3pm.”
In response, Merseyside Police wrote: “Just confirm there was no actual rape for me? Sunderland certainly got caught with their pants down though.”
Minutes later the force responded to another Twitter user who tweeted: “I’d like to report an incident that’s been going on for ages. Chelsea get raped every week, can you help?”
Merseyside Police responded: “Afraid not, it’s not a criminal offence to lose week in, week out.”
Jo Wood, from the Merseyside Rape and Sexual Abuse centre, said: “It’s really bad news. We work with victims of sexual violence across Merseyside and I have been getting messages from survivors.
“I think it’s a real shame. We work closely with Merseyside Police and we’ve come a long way. Something like this could set us back years.
“It’s completely inappropriate. It’s appalling and sends out completely the wrong message.
“There needs to be some sort of training put in place. Clearly this individual is not aware of the impact of what they did.”
Following criticism from Twitter users, Merseyside Police deleted the tweets nearly two hours after they were posted and issued an apology.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the force said: “We would like to apologise for any offence caused by inappropriate tweets from the force account this afternoon.
“They do not reflect the strenuous efforts made by Merseyside Police to investigate serious sexual crimes and protect victims.
“An full investigation has been launched into the inappropriate use of the Merseyside Police Twitter account.”