Violence and sexual assault levels in Leeds persist despite lockdown

Leeds sexual assault cases remain high despite COVID restrictions causing a decline in other crime statistics.

Whilst national lockdown restrictions saw crimes such as burglary and theft noticeably decrease, the number of violence and sexual offences throughout 2020 remained worryingly consistent, with the only significant drop being from 2489 assaults in February 2020 to 2074 in April 2020.

Restrictions also seemed to cause a rise in anti-social behaviour, with incidents rising for 1082 in June 2019 to 1461 in June 2020.

In July 2020, Leeds East saw the highest rate of violence and sexual offences, reporting 1014 cases over the month, which was an increase of 131 cases from the previous year, July 2019.

Leeds Now took a poll from people in Leeds between the ages of 18 and 25 which revealed that 24 out of 30 people (80%) have experienced some form of sexual harassment; anything from cat-calling to more serious crimes.

‘Reclaim Headingley Stadium Alleyway’, an organisation looking to raise awareness about the large number of sexual assaults in Headingley and the greater Leeds area said: “The police and public officials should make sure to take reports seriously and not degrade them by referring to them as ‘rumours’ (a phrase used by both West Yorkshire Police and MP Alex Sobel)”.

The organisation led a peaceful demonstration on 30th October in response to the growing number of assaults that have taken place in the city, and in particular, a spot in Headingley which has seen a high number of sexual harassment cases.

The spokesperson for the organisation also stated: “All bars and clubs in Leeds should participate in the Ask for Angela scheme (for both men and women). This could also be added as requirement for a Club Premises Certificate (nightclub license).”

The “Ask for Angela” scheme is an initiative in which men and women are able to indicate that they feel they are in a threatening situation by ‘asking for Angela’ at the bar/restaurant or to any member of staff.

“Most importantly of all, we must talk about and accept that there is a problem in Leeds (like there is in all UK cities) with assault.”

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