A University of Sussex student has described her treatment by police as ‘horrible’ following a sexual assault during the tuition fees protest on 9 December 2010.
The female, who wishes to remain anonymous, fell to the floor during a police charge and was subsequently groped by a white male with shoulder length, curly hair and brown eyes.
The incident took place at around 5pm. Five minutes later, the student, having been found on the floor by her friends, was refused permission to leave the ‘kettle’ and instructed to await further instructions.
Between 5.30 and 5.45, the group were finally allowed to leave the crowd to seek help from police officers.
The student has told the Badger that thereafter, the police did not take her complaint seriously and failed to listen to what she was saying. She was ushered into an ambulance that she did not request or require.
The student was later taken to a police station where she was questioned in, what she believes to be, an inappropriate manner for an hour. She was refused drinking water and had her tights taken as evidence without being supplied with a suitable alternative.
At10pm, she left the police station to make her own way home.
The victim’s friend described the police treatment on the day: “Having been a participant in the protest, [she] was treated as a criminal and not with the sensitivity due to a victim of sexual assault.”
The student has written a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) giving a full and detailed account of the events on that day and her subsequent treatment. As yet, she has not received a reply from the IPCC.
On 15 January, the victim received a follow up telephone call from the Metropolitan Police where she describes her treatment as ‘similar’ to that which she received at the police station in London. She was required to meet police in London within a couple of weeks or she was told the case would be dropped.
The student has told the Badger that there is “zero chance that my case will be dealt with”. She went on to say: “the state failed me on that day and had no regard for my safety.”
The IPCC have said that they cannot comment on ongoing investigations but that they take all complaints extremely seriously.
The IPCC have received 111 complaints since the first student demonstration on 10 November 2010. 66 of those complaints relate to the protest on 9 December 2010, including the high profile incidents involving the abuse of wheelchair user, Jody MacIntyre, and the hospitalisation of Alfie Meadows.
The University of Sussex Students’ Union has said: “The police’s behaviour in this incident is despicable. Reports of beating, charging and ‘kettling’ are enough without the accompanying negligence that this student has suffered. The police’s record in dealing with sexual assault in this country is shameful.”
Sol Schonfield, the union’s Communications Officer has said of the incident “the police’s actions on 9 December 2010 were abhorrent. Just when the police can play a positive role they let this student, and countless others, down. I urge any students who have any information in relation to this, or any other case, to come forward.”
If anybody has any information related to this particular case, they should pass it on to the police or contact the Students’ Union.