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Moves to improve night-time safety in Cambridge city centre after rape allegation in market square

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Cambridge City Council is exploring how to make the market square and city centre safer following an alleged rape last week.

A woman in her late teens was attacked in the square in the early hours of the morning on October 13, Cambridgeshire Constabulary said.

A high angle view over Market Square in Cambridge, with a large number of stalls under shelters, surrounded by shopping streets.. (47350437)
A high angle view over Market Square in Cambridge, with a large number of stalls under shelters, surrounded by shopping streets.. (47350437)

The force arrested a 32-year-old man from Cambridge on suspicion of rape the following day. He was released on bail until November 9.

Cllr Mairéad Healy (Lab, Romsey) and Cllr Cheney Payne (Lib Dem, Castle), both posed questions at a city council meeting last night (October 21) asking what was being done to ensure women’s safety in the city.

Cllr Rosy Moore (Lab, Coleridge), the executive councillor for climate change, environment and city centre, said a project is being worked on to improve lighting in the square.

She said: “I was very upset and disturbed that a young woman was seriously sexually assaulted in the market square last week and I do send my thoughts and best wishes to her and hope that she may make a good recovery after such a traumatic incident.

“I also wish to send my thoughts and best wishes to those other victims of sexual assault in the city whose cases may not be so widely known.

“With regards to the city centre generally, city officers, with our market management team, licensing, and CCTV services, are working closely with the police, CAMBAC [Cambridge Business Against Crime] and both universities, and other partners with an interest in the city centre and night-time economy, to review and agree continuing improvements in the way we collectively manage our night-time economy across the city centre.

“In terms of the market square we have a project to renovate and update the square and the market. This includes new lighting and new market stalls which will improve the safety of the square at night.

“However, it will be a while until that project is completed and so in the meantime we are actively reviewing with the police and other night-time economy management partners, what further action we can collectively take to improve the market square and the wider city centre.

“This could include new lighting and reducing the amount of clutter in the market square to make it more visible.”

Cllr Moore said she could not yet give a timescale for the upgrades, adding: “We are looking into updating the electrics, because we need the right electrical infrastructure to improve the lighting, but we are looking into what we can do in the meantime.”

Cllr Alex Collis (Lab, King’s Hedges), the executive councillor for open spaces, sustainable food and community wellbeing, said: “I wanted to start off by expressing, I think like all of us, my shock and dismay at the recent attack in the market square.

“At a CLP meeting last night Cllr [Jocelynne] Scutt, our lead councillor for women, read out a list of the 81 women who have lost their lives to acts of violence since the murder of Sarah Everard.

“Let’s let that sink in for a moment: 81 women in that short time. Never has this issue been more important for us to address as a council.”

Cllr Collis told councillors there was not time in the meeting to go through everything the council is currently doing to tackle the issue of violence against women, but she would prepare a briefing and circulate it with members.

But she highlighted that the council marks the United Nations International Day for the elimination of violence against women on November 25, and said that this year an online conference is planned to be “led by and for survivors”.

She added that it is an area of work for the community safety partnership, and that it is a priority for the police and crime commissioner, and is also part of the work of the Police and Crime Panel.

Read more

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