Only 1 in 4 reported cases of street harassment are investigated by Cambridge Police

Reetika Subramanian 19 January 2017

Since 2006, only one in every four reported cases of street sexual harassment has been investigated by Cambridgeshire Police. Of the 3,386 cases reported over a span of ten years until December 2016, 793 have been closed.

Speaking about the disparity, a spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said: “ There are many reasons why a case could remain undetected. It may be there was insufficient evidence resulting in no charges being brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, or there may have been a report and the victim subsequently didn’t want to press charges.”

The spokesperson also added that in some cases, no suspects may have been identified.

According to the data The Cambridge Student obtained, the number of reported cases of street harassment has more than doubled, from 174 cases in 2012 to 385 in 2016 until December.

In 2015, the police recorded 377 cases in total. Alongside the rise in cases reported, there has also been a gradual increase in the number of cases investigated by the police.

In 2013, the police investigated 43 cases. The number increased to 89 in the following year and, by November of 2016, 79 cases had been investigated and solved.

Since the beginning of this academic year, University students have received multiple e-mails from their College Tutors notifying them about new cases of attacks on students on the street, and asking them to exercise “constant vigilance”.

“Due to the recent alerts about the incidents, coupled with how badly lit and secluded the streets are, I end up choosing longer, but safer routes quite often,” said Sauleha Kamal, a student of Lucy Cavendish College, referring to Queen’s Road. “There are catcallers sometimes. I generally ignore them and walk ahead,” she added.

The police authorities claim that they have been doing their every bit to ensure that the streets remain safe.

“We have police patrols out in Cambridge to reassure the public and prevent crime. We also have teams dedicated to dealing with sexual offences and catching offenders,” said the spokesperson.

“Obviously, we would also advise people to take common sense precautions by avoiding isolated spots when out alone and, if possible, walking with someone else and keeping to well-lit, public areas.”

“Always go on the main roads and if you’re going out make sure you’re with someone, especially if you’re coming out of a club drunk. It’s never the victim’s fault but it always pays to be cautious,” says Dee Dee Lee, a student from Homerton.