A DVD made by students which stresses that sex without consent amounts to rape – and alcohol is no excuse - is to be distributed to freshers at a North-East university.

‘Within Reach’ is a powerful five-minute film made by students at Sunderland University.

The gritty story centres around a group of friends on a night out, in which one of the girls gets so drunk she is barely conscious, and her male friend takes her home and rapes her.

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The consequences of his actions then begin to unravel.

It was one of four short films produced by final year Sunderland students to raise awareness of issues surrounding consent and sexual assault.

The films were made after discussions between the university’s Health and Wellbeing team, Northumbria Police and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).

The winning film was acted out by final year drama students in collaboration with first year media production students.

The entries were judged by a panel from Northumbria Police, Sunderland University and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), and the winner was screened at an awards ceremony on the campus.

Adelle Hulsmeier, module leader for TV drama, said: “It’s not just looking at the victim, who is female for our brief, it’s about the responsibility on the male, and the friends egging those involved on.”

The winning film will now be produced as a DVD and distributed to Sunderland students, during events such as Freshers' Week.

It is hoped that the DVD would eventually be distributed to universities across the UK, as well as schools and colleges.

The awards evening was made possible with funding from Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird's Community Fund.

Ms Baird, who opened the event, said: "It is crucial for people to understand that sex without consent is rape, so I am pleased to see the issue being addressed in these films.

"All four entries were incredibly powerful and congratulations should go to all the students involved."

SARC manager Michelle Sheridan said: “Consent is a major issue and from our experience alcohol is often a factor in whether the man or woman has the capacity to give valid consent to sex. The implications of getting this wrong are very serious so it is vital that people understand that sex without consent is rape.”