Concerns that Cambridge police are failing students with the release of damning reports

Beth Price 5 May 2014

After two reports this month claiming that Cambridge police have the worst record for stop and searches in the country and that they are less than adequate in the service they provide for victims of assault, concerns have been raised that the police are failing students.

In April this year, the Cambridgeshire police was one of four UK forces singled out by the Home Office as causing “serious concern” about the service provided to victims of abuse.

Speaking anonymously to The Cambridge Student, one student spoke about how the police dealt with their experience of sexual assault. Though they pointed out “Cambridge police dealt very well with me” they added the caveat, “I did report a sexual assault to them which they initially failed to recognise as a crime because the PC who dealt with me was insufficiently informed on consent issues. I had to go back and ask to speak to someone more senior before I could start a criminal investigation, which I would never have done if I hadn't happened to know a criminal prosecutor who I'd asked for advice.”

Another blow for the police came when they were named one of the worst performing police forces in the country with 98% of stop and searches not resulting in any further action.

Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, has called this “a colossal waste of police time”, fearing that “stopping people for no reason just worsens community relationships, especially since figures show that black people are much more likely to be stopped than white people”.

Colm Murphy, a history first-year in Magdalene agreed, speaking on the reports “I’m sure that there are many decent police officers” but expressed his concern about the reliability of the police force as a whole, suggesting that “they need to do a wide ranging investigation” in order to restore the public’s, specifically the students’, trust in a police force meant to protect them.

Following a massive crackdown on students participating in the annual pre-exam booze-up, ‘Caesarian Sunday’, students have also commented on the negative attitude of the police towards Cantabs.

This comes as tensions are high between students and the police after allegations of the police spying on campaigning groups in the area, including student activism groups. Julian Huppert described these actions as “simply inappropriate” and the university’s Vice Chancellor, Leszek Borysiewicz, said that he believed the police had “significantly crossed a line” in this area.

Yet despite these damning reports ‘Caesarian Sunday’ ran relatively smoothly and there were no arrests. Police took photos with the students and student-police relations on the day seemed to take a more positive turn.