Students and staff at St Hugh’s received an email last week warning them of a number of reported incidents of men attempting to indecently expose themselves in the University Parks.
In an email entitled ‘Security Message’, the college advised students to call the police or the Security Services with any concerns or information about the incidents.
It is understood that the University Security Services are currently working with Thames Valley Police in relation to the issue. The police force, however, only confirmed that there had been a single case of indecent exposure.
The email, from the Hugh’s Dean Dr Nicholas Perkins, goes on to inform St Hugh’s students of the availability of personal alarms at the college Porter’s Lodge.
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police was able to confirm the occurrence of a single incident of attempted indecent exposure, involving a male perpetrator. The incident took place during the afternoon of the 21st of November, the day before the email was sent to students, on a park bench near the Parks Lane entrance. A female witness later reported the incident to police.
Thames Valley Police were however unable to say whether another incident of a similar nature has taken place in the parks in recent weeks. This contrasts with the email sent to students, which stated that ‘two incidents of attempted indecent exposure’ have taken place.
The incident has not shaken all Hugh’s students, though, with some praising the level of safety generally enjoyed by Oxford students. Charlie Hempstead, a second year historian, commented,
“Generally speaking, I feel safe in Oxford even when walking home along Banbury or Woodstock. There is a visible police presence in town, which helps people feel safe outside clubs. There could perhaps be more done in Freshers week to ensure that freshers who might be walking home from clubs alone are safe, but that would seem to be the responsibility of the freshers rep for each college.”
When contacted by The Oxford Student, Hugh’s JCR President Tom Pope was unavailable for comment. Incidents of anti-social behaviour such as this have been decreasing over the past months, with the number of incidents reported nearly halving between July and September. They were still found to account for 16% of all crime in central Oxford.
Security for the University parks is administered by The University Security Service. Those with concerns are advised to contact the Services on 01865 289999.