Cambridge University has received 173 reports of sexual misconduct within nine months

Beatrice McCartney 5 February 2018

In May 2017 an anonymous reporting tool on the University of Cambridge's website was created to allow both staff and students to come forward to report incidences of sexual harassment. 173 reports have been filed between the creation of the reporting tool and 31 January 2018. A spike in reports was prompted by the Breaking the Silence campaign against sexual misconduct which was launched by the university in October 2017.

The announcement today, 5 February, by the university of such a high number of anonymous reports coincides with the first day of National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week of this year.

The data from the reports will be used to identify the nature and scale of sexual misconduct taking place across the university, allowing for the creation of resources and support to tackle these pressing issues.

Graham Virgo, the vice-chancellor for education has stated that the high number of reports indicates that the ‘victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, and to act on it accordingly’.

Virgo stresses that the aim of the reporting tool is to allow the university to be able to ‘identify and then provide support to the students who need it’, whilst also enabling them to measure the impact of university-wide campaigns, such as Breaking the Silence.

Before the Breaking the Silence campaign, as Virgo notes, 52% of those reporting incidences of sexual harassment or violence thought nothing would be done even if they made a complaint, but this figure has dropped to 30% after the launch of the campaign.