University of Cambridge admits significant problem with sexual misconduct

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “The University of Cambridge has now passed that point.”Alongside the anonymous reporting tool, Cambridge launched a Breaking the Silence campaign in October last year and that is credited with prompting the second largest spike in reports in the University’s history.  Prof Virgo said: “We expected high numbers, and view it as a metric of success. It appears victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, and to act on it accordingly.”A number of other institutions , including the University of Manchester, have introduced the anonymous reporting tool but are yet to report results. Prof Virgo said that whilst recent concern over high profile acquittals in sex abuse cases because of a lack of disclosure show the “fundamental importance of the rule of law”, they could also mean victims are less likely to come forward.  He added: “With anonymous reporting, these students may start to have confidence that they can come forward and be heard in person and be given the emotional support, advice and guidance they might need.” The University of Cambridge has admitted that it has a “significant problem” with sexual misconduct after receiving almost 200 complaints in a matter of months. The University is the first to reveal high numbers of reports after launching an anonymous system which has also been adopted by other institutions. The majority of the 173 complaints – 119 – are allegations by students of misconduct by other students. Two students have made complaints about staff and seven staff members have complained about the action of colleagues. The other complaints, made between the launching of the anonymous reporting tool in May 2017 and January 31 this year, related to neither staff or students. Some of the reports are thought to be historic. Graham Virgo, Professor of English Private Law and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, wrote in a blog:  “It supports our belief that we have a significant problem involving sexual misconduct – what we now need to ensure is that those who have been affected receive the support and guidance they need.”Whilst anonymous reports have risen, Cambridge received only six formal allegations between October and December. Prof Virgo said: “Trust in universities’ ability to safeguard students and staff from sexual abuse will remain low until reports of sexual misconduct are in triple figures, according to Graham Towl, former chief psychologist for the Ministry of Justice.last_img

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