Nottinghamshire Police faced a backlash after they posted on social media suggesting women who walk alone at night are at risk of being attacked.
The Facebook post said walking alone at night was a risk women should not be taking, after it was reported that a woman was followed by a man in Broxtowe.
The force said the post was 'clumsy', and it has since been deleted.
The post had said: "Taking a risk when it comes to walking alone at night is not one of those things we should be doing.
"Women who walk alone especially at night are at risk of harassment, or even physical assault."
Helen Voce, chief executive of Nottingham Women's Centre, told the BBC she could not believe the post had been made by the police.
She said: "It felt like a 1980s thing; it is so condescending, blaming women for going out and it's so sexist about us coming back from the shops.
"I think it makes women feel like it's their fault and that's ridiculous.
"It's men that need to change their behaviour."
One person commenting on the post said: "All people should be safe to walk the streets that they live in any time of the day or night.
"Do not blame the victim here. The blame lies solely with the man."
Another added: "When I read this, all I feel is fear and am reminded again, that as a woman I'm not supposed to be in public spaces."
And another said: "May I politely remind you it is 2019 and we no longer blame women for whatever crime has been committed against them?"
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesperson told the BBC: "We recognise this was a clumsy attempt to communicate an incident with the underlying intention of keeping people safe.
"The post was swiftly deleted as soon as it was brought to our attention, feedback has been provided and we would apologise unreservedly for any offence caused."