29 Oct 2014

How Safe Do You Feel In Fallowfield?

Most will already have heard about the recent sexual attack on a 19 year old girl in the predominantly student populated area, Fallowfield. It struck my interest as soon as I heard. With it being so close to where I live and where most of my university friends live, it really does make you think twice about your surroundings, and makes you question "Well am I really safe?".

The article posted in one of Manchester's biggest newspapers, Manchester Evening News, angered me further. 
It read: 'A student was dragged screaming into an alleyway and raped in a ‘harrowing’ attack as she walked home from a night out.' Firstly, What does her occupation and what she's been doing before the attack have ANYTHING to do with the fact there was not and is not enough police presence in such a busy and vulnerable area. Would they have written 'sales assistant' or 'fish-monger' if that was the victim's job? Probably not.

It then goes on to say: 'Police are now warning students at Manchester's universities to take precautions after late-night celebrations.'  In other words, it's the victims fault for walking home alone. Why is the focus not on the fact that, yes, students will drink copious amounts at times, and yes, will end up wandering home alone for a number of different factors, so how about instead of 'upping the police patrol' instead increase the police presence (on foot). Have officers walking around the busy student areas and keeping an eye out if we're so silly to put ourselves in such situations. Because after all - me walking home at 3AM because i've lost my money & phone means an invitation to be horrifically assaulted and scarred for life. Silly student, never taking precautions.

The article briefly skips over the attack just a few weeks ago on another 19 year old girl, also linked with the Fallowfield  area, 'The attack comes just weeks after another 19-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a bogus cab driver after a night at Manchester Students’ Union before being dumped in Fallowfield.' Avoiding any speculation from its readers that it should not have happened the first time, yet for it to happen a second time in less than a month is ludicrous, in my opinion. The police SHOULD have placed more foot-patrols in the area from that point on-wards. 

For a small news project a friend of mine was working on, we decided to approach people on the streets of Fallowfield early evening just four days after the attack had taken place. Meeting a guy who lived down Filey Rd, where the incident took place, he said we should come back and interview his house mates, as his house was one which backed onto the alley where the girl was attacked.

Feeling slightly strange about being there, and almost intruding we sharpishly asked the opinions of those who live so close to the incident about how safe they feel, and whether they are happy with the police's promises to prevent such grotesque acts from happening again. As we were shown to the back garden and the dark alley way, I reached for the back door and asked "Is it unlocked?". "No, it's definitely not" - she joked.

When we took to the front of Filey Rd to get opinions of the residents in the area, the responses we received differed vastly. Most were open to share that they didn't feel safe any more and that they were shocked. Others were blunt and didn't want to be filmed or even talk about the safety of the area. One male, said his feelings about his own personal safety did not change however he would be more likely to get a taxi home in future, just to be on the safe side. The most shocking of all was the fact that one lady had no idea about what had happened just metres away from where she sleeps and said "none of my flat mates told me" in jest.

We were shown a letter residents had been given by Greater Manchester Police regarding the incident. They attempted to assure the residents that the area will return to its safe environment occupants once knew and that they are working extremely hard on finding this vulgar excuse for a man (not quite in those words). It read:

And so now all we are to do as residents and students of Manchester is to trust what Greater Manchester Police have promised and that the safety of the area is to be hastily restored. Of course with the co-operation of those menacing students taking precautions. 

Just Write About It
- Raven Twigg.

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