A YORK student was raped on Retreat Lane, on Wednesday 16th February at between three and five am. York Police Force is appealing for information from anyone who may have witnessed the crime.
The student was returing to campus and chose the Retreat Lane route, which runs from Heslington Road to the University grounds.
D.C. Mark Groves, confirmed that they didn’t have any leads at this stage in their investigation, “we’re really clutching at straws to try and see whether we can move it on anywhere. In relation to the person responsible, all we have is that he is of an Asian or dark European appearance.”
The police are appealing for witnesses, “because the attacker’s come from behind, so if anyone has seen, or been frightened off and worried, or anyone in similar circumstances. If they could let us know either way that would be great.”
Mick Watkins, Security Operations Manager for the University, revealed that the incident was initially reported as an alleged assault, and that they were waiting for more information on the incident. “I’m waiting for feedback from them, and they promised to get back to me with some more information, but I’ve had nothing at all at the moment.”
A University spokesperson refused to comment on the individual case, but stressed that “it is a matter of concern to everybody that something like this could happen on the campus.
“I think that there are two things to say. That obviously the University is conscious of the potential risk to students at night and we’ve put in place a number of measures to minimise them.
“The University strongly recommend that students avoid using Retreat Lane after the hours of darkness. Despite the fact that the lighting along it was improved some years ago. There are notices at both ends of the lane warning students not to use it after dark.”
Concerns over campus security have been raised, as Retreat Lane has been the target for similar attacks in the past. nouse reported on the attack of a female student on 17th March 2001, in the Retreat Lane area by three male youths.
John Rose, SU Welfare Officer, commented: “I think it’s bound to happen, and it’s horrific when it does. But people shouldn’t be worried, they should take precautions…
“Now if you think about it, things like this do happen. It’s horrible when it happens. I don’t think it disproportionately happens to students. I think this kind of thing is about being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.”
Rose spoke out against the flaws in campus security: “On campus there are things which can be done. I think the problems we face are areas surrounding the University, which aren’t University property, but are council property.
“For example, getting the extra lighting on Retreat Lane was a real struggle, and it went on for ten years. The police were saying we can’t light this, because if we light it more people will use it and if more people use it then there’ll be more crime. But that doesn’t make sense, you need to light it – people do use it.”
Rose was satisfied with the level of support he received from the police, “when it comes to the case in question, the police are very proactive on that kind of things, because it is one of the most serious crimes that can happen and there very supportive on that.”
However, he felt more could be done to improve the reporting mechanism. “Anonymous reporting for a sexual assault would be good because often people don’t want to take it further, some people just want to get on, carry on and get back on with life.”
Rose confirmed that there are several preventative measures that the Students’ Union provide, including the provision of a taxi fund, a mini bus service and free rape alarms.
He also highlighted that there is a support network at the University to help deal with victims of servere crimes such as this one. “This person hopefully won’t become a victim of sexual assault, but will become a survivor and that’s the kind of thing we want to see.”