The PSNI has apologised after discontinued flyers that made a link between rape and alcohol consumption were wrongly distributed in Belfast.

The organisation said it was investigating how the old information leaflets - which suggested the more someone drank the more likely they were to be raped - entered circulation in the north of the city.

Head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman, said she apologised unreservedly.

She said the message contained in the flyers did not reflect how the PSNI views victims of sexual crime, insisting the only people to blame for rape were rapists.

"We were made aware this evening that old PSNI flyers had been distributed in north Belfast this week, and that this had been reported online," she said.

"First of all, I want all victims to know that the only people who are responsible for rape are rapists.

"Victims are not to blame.

"We are investigating how these flyers made their way into the public arena as they were discontinued a number of years ago.

"They do not reflect, in any way, how PSNI views or treats victims of sexual crime and we apologise, unreservedly, for what has happened.

"I can assure you that we will learn lessons from this.

"We are taking urgent action to ensure that any remaining flyers will be destroyed so this cannot happen again.

"I want to take this opportunity to say that if you are a victim of a sexual crime and that if you choose to speak to us, you will be listened to, respected and treated sensitively.

"Your report will be thoroughly investigated, and you will be signposted to support services such as Nexus and Victim Support, among others.

"As a police service, it is our job to keep you safe, to investigate allegations of crime and bring offenders before the courts. We are committed to investigating sexual crime robustly and thoroughly and we will do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice."