Finally, Durham has an officer specifically for sexual assault

It’s the first permanent position of its kind in the country

Durham has become the first university in the country to have a permanent post for the job of ‘Student Support and Training Officer (Sexual Violence and Misconduct)’, dedicated to tackling the issue of sexual violence.

The position was originally going to be a year-long contract, but the extension of the position to a permanent, full-time post highlights that the university has committed to taking the problem of sexual violence seriously.

The decision is in line with practice models at universities internationally, which have a post or team dedicated to dealing with the issue of sexual violence and misconduct, but Durham is the first university in the country to have a person dedicated to this area.

Clarissa Humphreys, a social worker who specialises in violence against women, has taken on the role, and her responsibilities include policy development, student support, prevention and training, and case management.

In an interview, she told The Tab:

“The University is taking an institution-wide approach meaning that all members of the University community are responsible for ensuring sexual violence and misconduct are not tolerated as part of our community.”

As part of this, Clarissa and other members of the ‘Sexual Violence and Misconduct Operations Group’ have worked on developing courses for both staff and students to prevent and respond to sexual violence and misconduct.

Clarissa told The Tab: “Sexual violence is a broad societal issue requiring cultural change and training is a key component to tackling the issue and changing culture.”

Once the full training programme is developed, there will be opportunities for students to receive training on preventing and dealing with sexual violence and misconduct throughout the academic year.