Jesus and Christ’s: Let there be light

After a spate of nighttime attacks, it’s time the city council install sufficient streetlighting for all public spaces in Cambridge

assault christs jesus Pieces safety sex attack

I think most of us, most of the time, take it pretty much for granted that we are safe in Cambridge.

After all, it’s the city of silly little gowns and cute little bicycles and getting so drunk on a Sunday night that it takes three friends to carry you home.

To most of us who came from larger cities at least, it’s hard to imagine this place could pose any threat to our personal safety greater than a bad supervision report or Gardies running out of garlic mayo.

No, hidden behind the fortified walls of our colleges, with the porters’ steely glares and our unabashed sense of entitlement, it can be easy to forget what lies outside is a real actual city. A city, for all intents and purposes, like any other.

Jesus Green in the day

So it comes as a horrific wake up call to hear about the spate of incidents that occurred around Cambridge over the last couple of weeks.

On Friday 17th, three women were attacked on separate occasions at various places around the city centre; while this Sunday a man in his 20’s was sexually assaulted by three men on Christ’s pieces. Other reports suggest that as many as 10 assaults have taken place in public places around Cambridge over the last few weeks.

The latest is that after a series of three more attacks in Market Square on Sunday, three Libyan soldiers from a nearby army barracks have been arrested.

But we’re not trying to catch a bogeyman here. Let’s not assume these arrests are the end of the story. If anything we should use the events of the last couple of weeks as an impetus for action.

The path on Jesus Green where one of the assaults took place

As students, we deserve to feel safe in this city, and not just when we’re tucked in behind 15th century towers. What’s more, as residents of this city, we have a duty to make it safe for everyone.

This needs to start with the obvious.

Anyone familiar with Jesus Green will agree as soon as it gets dark, it gets really dark. One of the paths where a woman was attacked on Friday 16th has only one streetlight along its entire duration. Astonishingly the main avenue of the park has no streetlights at all.

On Christ’s pieces, a glow-in-the-dark gravel path made the news last year as an alternative to street lighting. The reality is anything but encouraging.

Anyone who has seen it will testify it is little more than a slightly white path, the fluorescence seemingly perceptible only to those advertisers in possession of long-exposure settings on their camera.

Christ’s Pieces not so glow-in-the-dark path

This isn’t acceptable. Right now, the city council are not fulfilling their duty to keep the inhabitants of Cambridge safe.

It needs to be made a priority for Cambridge city council to install sufficient street-lighting, primarily on Jesus Green and Christ’s pieces but ultimately on all the green spaces in Cambridge.

As a member of Jesus college, living just metres away from where three of the attacks took place last Friday, it seems unforgivable that this wasn’t a step that had been taken years ago.

We need to stop treating Cambridge like some utopian Hogwarts haven; people are being attacked for walking home at night.

If 10 assaults have been reported in the past two weeks, how many others might have gone unreported?

Let’s stop this here.

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