Cambridge student attacked

Amy Blackburn 18 October 2007

A Cambridge student has spoken out about his shock at being attacked on Sidney Street on Sunday evening.

Gary Tse, a second year medic at Trinity Hall, told The Cambridge Student that he was upset both at the incident and at being “ignored” by the police.

“It was about ten past nine in the evening. I was coming from Magadelene, walking towards Halfords”, Tse told TCS less than 48 hours after the incident.

“I had my friends with me, and we had just been to formal at Magdalene. Three or four men were walking towards us – they banged right into me, but I just kept on walking.

“About five seconds later one of them ran into me and then punched me in the face”, he continued. “At first I didn’t register it, so I just kept on walking. I just ran.

“Another ten seconds later, another person appeared and punched me right in the face. I saw it coming but I just sort of stood there, to be honest – I was a bit shocked. After that they ran off.”

Called 999

Tse went on to describe what happened when he tried to contact the police.

“I rang the police on 999”, he told TCS. “I waited about ten minutes, but no-one came, so I rang again. Eventually we were able to get to Sidney Sussex College, and we waited there for the police.

“After about half an hour they still hadn’t come, and we had called them three times already,” Tse continued.

“The gang actually came back – they were right across the street. Because the police weren’t there, I wasn’t sure whether to do something about it. My friend said no, because they might have knives,” he said.

With no police presence, Tse was forced to turn to the Sidney porters for refuge.

“I walked into Sidney and talked to the porter there,”Tse continued.

“When the police came, I told them I had reported the incident half an hour ago. I said that the attackers had come back, and they were right outside Sidney Sussex College,” he went on.

But it was the lack of police response to the attack that angered Tse more than anything.

“Obviously I was shocked when I was punched”, he said. “But the main problem was how the police dealt with my case.”

According to Tse, the speed of the police response meant that other students were also needlessly exposed to unnecessary danger.

“Just before the police arrived, another person was attacked,” Tse said.

“Literally just seconds before the police came, and then the attackers ran off again,” he continued.

Police Indifference

When the Police finally did arrive, according to Tse, they were not interested in talking to him about his ordeal.

“I was the one who initially reported the incident, but when the police eventually got there they basically ignored me”, Tse said.

“The other person who had been attacked said he didn’t want to make a fuss and he just wanted to go home – but the police then asked him a question instead of asking me, even though I was the one who reported it and he didn’t actually report anything.”

Although the other student who had been attacked didn’t wish to pursue the matter, Tse did and was astonished to find that the Police continued to idnore him.

Tse explained: “A policeman said, ‘do you want the attackers arrested?’ He was actually talking to the other guy, not me.”

“He said no, but then I just replied, saying that I did want them arrested as I had been attacked and they were just around the corner.

“The police officer told me that he wasn’t asking me the question. That seemed strange, because I was the one who actually placed the call, and I was the person who requested urgent assistance from the police and they just pretty much ignored me and didn’t talk to me at all,” Tse went on.

As investigations are ongoing, a spokseman for the Cambridgeshire Constabulary could only confirm to TCS that police were called to the Sidney Street branch of Sainsbury’s at around 9.20pm on the night of Sunday 14th October. The man placing the call told police that he had been attacked and the assailants had run away.

Fears for Safety

The incident has prompted reminders that the safety of Cambridge students is of the utmost importance.

Trinity Hall Senior Tutor Dr Nick Bampos commented: “The College’s position is to take the security and safety of our students (and all members of the College) seriously, and we make every effort to secure our sites and respond to concerns about safety.

“Furthermore, the Colleges have an efficient way of transmitting information about incidents around Cambridge and we make sure that the student community is aware of such events”, he continued.

“The porters are dealing with the incident on Sunday and are likely to contact the Police.”

CUSU Welfare and Graduates Officer Andrea Walko has highlighted the precautions students can take to improve their personal safety. “CUSU sells attack alarms, and we will be running self-defence classes later in the term”, she told The Cambridge Student.

“Cambridge is relatively safe, but students still need to remain aware.”

Amy Blackburn