Police fail to advise of attack

Published

Sarah Smith

The residents of Murano Street Student Village were shocked to learn this week that they had not been informed of an attack which took place close to one of its main entrances.

A 29-year old woman was indecently assaulted whilst walking over the canal footbridge in the early hours of Saturday January 31. The assailant has not yet been caught and the police have issued an appeal for witnesses.

Despite this, the students living at Murano Street were not contacted about the incident, nor were they warned about the fact that a potentially dangerous man was known to be in the area.

Guardian spoke to a number of students who expressed concern about the lack of information given to them.

First-year English Literature student, Becky Sharp, told Guardian why she feels it is important for the police and the University to notify students when attacks like this occur.

She said: “I think it was irresponsible for them to not alert the Murano Street residents of the attack as it is important that we know of the threats that surround the area.

“I have, so far, been quite casual about being alone and in the area late at night, and hearing about the attack makes me feel more susceptible to the danger and more likely to be cautious.

“It is important to give the students that awareness so that they can make a more informed choice about wandering around the area at all times.”

Another Murano resident, Rachel Mitchell, explained that what was especially concerning was that the attack took place right next to one of Murano Street’s main entrances.

She said: “We should have been warned about this, especially because it happened so close to where we live.

“It’s worrying because I have often walked over the canal bridge when coming home from a night out, but knowing that a woman was attacked there would definitely have made me call a taxi or use the other entrance.”

A spokesperson for Strathclyde Police admitted to Guardian that there are no formal measures in place with regards to liaising with students.

She explained: “There is no formal policy about informing students of incidents like this. It is normally done on a regular basis but not on this occasion.

“Police have liaised with security personnel at the campus and are reviewing all available CCTV footage. Police would urge any students who may have any information regarding the incident to contact Maryhill Police Office.”

Police officers contacted site security at Murano Street the morning after the assault took place in order to obtain access to CCTV footage, although the University’s Residential Serivces were not informed of this until the afternoon of Tuesday, February 3.

A University spokesperson explained that the reason students weren’t warned was because the police did not ask for them to be told about the incident.

He told Guardian: “We enjoy good working relationships with local police and they inform us immediately should they consider that additional measures or precautions should be taken by the University of Glasgow, including specific briefings to students.

“Police investigating this particular incident, which involved a member of the public, did not ask Residential Services to alert students at Murano Street.”

President of the SRC, Gavin Lee, emphasised how important it is that students keep themselves safe, especially late at night.

He said: “While the woman who was attacked was not a student, the proximity of the attack to Murano Street Student Village makes it of concern to all students living there.

“The SRC provides minibuses to halls of residence each evening, so students don’t need to put themselves at risk by walking home alone.”

The attack is the second recorded incident in the vicinity of Murano Street during the current academic year. In September, a first year was the victim of an attempted robbery on the steps leading to the canal bridge, but the attack was foiled when a friend chased down the assailant and recovered the stolen bag.