The petition concerns an Alleyway in Headingley, which is at the centre of a worrying spike in sexual crime.
A student from Leeds Beckett tweeted that she was the victim of a violent sexual assault on the evening of October 22nd – her Twitter account is now private so due to this, her account will be left undisclosed within this article.
The student described in her tweet how a group of men grabbed her, pushed her to the floor, and took off her joggers. The student was able to get away from the attackers before the crime escalated further.
The tweet quickly garnered a vast amount of attention on multiple social media sites, and prompted a petition to close the alley.
Bethany Walsh, created the petition which calls for the closure of the route. The petition has now received well over 8,500 signatures.
Bethany says she is ‘infuriated’ by the attack.
“I believe that there have been a lot of cases that have happened down there, this girl has been one of the brave ones that have actually come out with it. I think there are a lot more cases than people realise.”
Bethany described her initial reaction to hearing about the horrific attack, “I thought enough is enough. I’m going to do everything in my power to try to make a change here.
“I hear about these stories of men feeling like they’re entitled to take advantage of a woman just because they’re walking. I went ahead and started the petition. I’m hoping to get at least 20,000 signatures. It’s going crazy and so many people are hopping on board. It’s amazing to see everyone coming together.”
Data from Police.uk shows that Violent and Sexual offences are by far the most common crimes committed in Headingley and Leeds North West as a region. During August 2020, the Leeds North West region reported 466 violent and sexual crimes.
Of these 466 crimes reported in August, 58 of these occurred within Headingley.
Furthermore, data analysis done by myself shows that there has been a 29% increase in violent and sexual offences in the last year, just in Headingley alone.
The chart above clearly illustrates the worrying trend of violent and sexual assaults occurring in Headingley.
The Leeds University Feminist Society and the Leeds University Abuse Awareness Society are in the process of organising protests in response to the attacks, as well as considering measures to pressure the council to close the route.
Rhiannon Griffiths, Secretary of LUU Debate Society said “The fact that these sexual and violent assaults are happening just shows that nothing is being done.
“On Friday we are handing out posters and flyers, we’re going to put candles down the alleyway for each victim that we know of in Leeds. 446 assault cases have happened in August this year, so we’re going to hold a vigil of tealights for every one of those victims in the alleyway.
“We have an open meeting to talk more about an actual protest, depending on what the police say about it, hopefully, we can have the go-ahead to plan that.”
Rhiannon gave some advice for staying safe around Headingley and Hyde Park: “Try and travel in groups as much as you can. Alarms are really effective too because a lot of these crimes happen in areas that are hidden away from the public, but these alarms push everything out into the public space.”
You can sign the petition here.