Just one in 20 students feel safe on a night out in Cambridge

A further three-quarters of respondents said that safety is a large factor in considering when or where to go out


TW: The following piece contains discussion of spiking, sexual harassment and sexual abuse

A survey conducted by The Cambridge Tab that included responses from male, female and non-binary students found that only five per cent of students feel completely safe whilst clubbing in Cambridge.

‘You can never trust that you are completely safe in a club environment’

When asked about safety considerations on a night out, three-quarters of Cambridge students told us that safety is a consideration when deciding where to go out, and although all four of Cambridge’s main clubs (MASH, Revolution, Lola Lo’s and Vinyl) were mentioned when asked if any particular club felt safer than others, they were once again all mentioned in testimonies of negative experiences on a night out.

The majority of our respondents shared their worries were rooted in their own previous experiences, or those of their friends, rather than more distant influences, such as the media’s reporting on increased trends in spiking.

‘Being spiked was terrifying and its happened multiple times’

In recent weeks, there have been frequent reports on the rise in incidences of spiking across the country. These trends seem to be reflected in our investigation with 70 per cent of respondents telling us they are worried about spiking, and one in 10 informing us they have been spiked in the city. One female respondent told us that ”nearly every girl [they] knew had been spiked.”

‘I get worried when my female friends get excessively drunk’

Of the men we surveyed, 31 per cent worried about their own safety on a night out in Cambridge, whereas over three quarters worried about the safety of friends and peers.

Looking at all students respondents, 89 per cent said they worry about the safety of their friends on a night out, particularly if they are drunk. Students also said they felt like they had a responsibility to remain sober in order to look after their friends, expressing a fear that they may not be able to help them should something go wrong.

‘I’ve been groped so many times I can’t count them all’

Students had a variety of important concerns; over half reported sexual harassment, such as cat-calling or unwanted sexual remarks, and nearly a third recounted experiences of sexual assault.

It is no surprise, therefore, that two-thirds of respondents worry about sexual assault and 64 per cent about sexual harassment.

Despite only one in five students feeling completely safe on a night out in Cambridge, a third said that clubbing felt safer in Cambridge than home, indicative of worse problems across the rest of the country.

‘Overall clubbing in Cambridge is safer than most places, however, there is still an unsafe atmosphere; even as a man, I do not feel safe, I would imagine it would be significantly worse for women’

Less than a third of students felt that bouncers and club staff did enough to make them feel safe. Some students responded saying they felt like the bouncers were part of the problem with feeling unsafe. They described bouncers who seemed “fed up” with clubbers and unaware of the safety issues around throwing vulnerable people out alone, with no way to get home or find friends.

Change is needed

As a response to a rise in spiking stories across the country, a campaign named ‘Girls Night In’ has formed branches in many university towns, and is advocating for a boycott of nightclubs on October 27th. The aim of this campaign is ‘to ensure the issue of spiking is being taken seriously.’

Cindie’s student nights, the group behind two of Cambridge’s biggest nights out (Rumboogie and La Vida Lola’s), have released the following statement in response to concern about the safety of Cambridge venues:

“Whilst we do have robust customer safety policies and procedures in place, we have taken the decision to not promote Rumboogie at Revolution on Wednesday 27th October, although the club will remain open, in solidarity with the Girls Night In campaign. We believe that this will be the best way to demand meaningful change.”

MASH, and Cindie’s student nights have emphasised the presence of SIA trained door staff at all their events, and all Cambridge clubs (MASH, Vinyl, Lola’s and Revolution) have committed to providing lids or cling film covers on drinks for anyone who would like them as a measure against spiking.

Cindie’s student nights, in collaboration with Hawks & Ospreys are also launching a new “CamSafe” policy, that incorporated existing safety policies, such as ‘safety guardians’ responsible for student safety, and free phone charging stations for people who need to contact their friends, with new implementations such as spike testing kits, available with the safety guardians.

The Tab is continuing to investigate safety in Cambridge and will be bringing you more information as we receive it, we are working in collaboration with venues and event organisers in Cambridge to ensure your voices are heard and change is made. We are dedicated to making Cambridge a safe space for everyone and if there is anything you would like us to report or include on this topic please do not hesitate to contact us. 

If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault, spiking, non-sexual physical intimidation, or hate crimes whilst on a night out and would like to talk to someone Nightline is available from 7pm-7am everyday in term time (+441223 744444).

Feature image credit: Rosie Smart-Knight