Promoting (safe) sex: Exeter students in CCTV sex scandal

Gwen Jing 16 January 2013

An investigation was launched yesterday into the leaking of CCTV clips of two students at the University of Exeter engaged in sexual activity at the Safer Sex Ball (SSB) in December, a student-run RAG charity event.

CCTV footage was leaked, captured on a mobile phone and circulated around campus and online, exposing two students engaged in sexual activity at the RAM bar in Exeter during the university’s Safer Sex Ball – a charity event aiming to promote safe sex at which most students wore only underwear.

One student at Exeter who attended the ball described the night’s scene to The Cambridge Student: “there were lots of practically naked people consuming lots of alcohol.”

The Students’ Guild of the University of Exeter announced that it has launched a full investigation into the case. A Guild spokesman said: “The students’ Guild recognise that confidential CCTV has been filmed without permission. The Guild is making sure the affected parties will be supported during this difficult time.

“Measures were in place to provide high levels of security but we are aware that irresponsible behaviour has taken place and we are working hard to rectify the situation.

“A full investigation is underway in which action proportionate to the seriousness of the situation will be taken.”

The University stated it would make no further comments.

Both those featured in the footage as well as those responsible for leaking the footage have been accused as having acted in possible breaches of the law. Devon and Cornwall Police claimed that the students featured in the video could be charged with a criminal offence for being involved in sexual activity in public: “Engaging in sexual activity in a public place could constitute an offence, depending on the form of sexual activity.” However, the police stated that ” would have to see the footage in question to officially comment on the incident itself.”

Police also said that those responsible for leaking the footage may have broken the law, namely that uploading CCTV footage on the Internet without permission breaches the data protection laws and human rights legislation in terms of privacy. Rumours among students at Exeter have suggested that it was a member of staff at the RAM bar at the time who leaked the CCTV footage, and that this person no longer worked at the bar.

A first year student at the University of Exeter, Phoebe Hall, told TCS: “I think it was very irresponsible and inconsiderate of the people/person who leaked the CCTV. Attention should be focused on finding the individual who leaked the video and they should be penalised in some way.

“As for the couple, I think they have been embarrassed enough and really should just be given some sort of caution.”

She added: “Something like that was bound to happen and I’m sure a lot of people were up to stuff like that and didn’t get caught.

“That’s not the point of the SSB though so that shouldn’t reflect badly on the charitable cause of the event. It’s just a very imaginative way of raising a lot of money. Students love it.”

The Ball, which has been held at Exeter University for over 20 years, aims to promote safe sex; students were handed free contraceptives during the night. In the 2011 Ball, 4000 students attended the event. The event also raises money for charity, typically raising up to a sum of £30,000 each year.

Gwen Jing