Sexual assault rife on Broad Street

Each year, dozens of sexual assaults are committed along Broad Street. A Slice investigation has revealed that last year 32 sexual assaults took place on the road, with 36 occurring in 2014.

The road, famous for its large collection of cheap, high capacity clubs, is visited by 8 million people annually. However, despite West Midlands Police’s high-visibility patrols, plus the presence of charity and community volunteers at peak party times, sexual assaults have been committed at more than a fortnightly rate. According to sexual harassment campaigners ‘Hollaback‘, only 15% of those who fall victim to sexual violence choose to report the incident to the police. The true scale of the problem is therefore likely to be much worse than the statistics suggest.

number-of-sexual-assualts-committed-on-broad-street-reported-to-the-policeNumber of sexual assaults on Broad Street

West Midlands Police told The Slice: “Whilst one offence is too many, these figures are clearly extremely low given the sheer number of people visiting the area…Birmingham city centre is a safe, positive and vibrant place.”

This is in stark contrast to controversial comments previously made by Yardley MP Jess Phillips who drew comparisons between the behaviour of some of Birmingham’s clubbers and the Cologne sex attackers. Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time she said: “There is violence against women and girls that you are describing, a very similar situation to what happened in Cologne could be described on Broad Street in Birmingham every week where women are baited and heckled.”

The scale of the problem in Birmingham is clearly smaller than it was in Cologne, where more than 800 women were targeted on a single night. However, statistics such as these do highlight the persistent threat that women face on Broad Street. Given that this year the number of prosecutions brought for sexual offences in England and Wales has already risen to its highest level ever, with a 22.5% rise on last year, it seems that Birmingham’s party goers and the authorities need to be more vigilant than ever.

Speaking exclusively to The Slice, campaigning group ‘Hollaback’ were unequivocal in how they thought the problem should be tackled. “Women – and most survivors of sexual violence on nights out are women – don’t need any more advice on how to protect themselves on nights out. We’ve been told how to dress, how much to drink, how to walk home in groups in order to avoid being raped since we were teenagers and this only serves to shift blame onto victims.”

They urged every venue in the area to get in touch with ‘Good Night Out‘, an international campaign that works with venues to help tackle harassment on nights out. The Slice has forwarded this information to all of Broad Street’s clubs.

Whilst the vast majority of victims of sexual crimes are female, it is important to note that approximately 15% are male.

Birmingham has previously hosted ‘Reclaim the Night’ events, which see women and men march together through city centres in a show of strength against those who can make the area unsafe, and every week volunteers help work to make Broad Street a safe place to enjoy a night out. However, there clearly is a lot left to be done to ensure that no one is in fear of being targeted whilst out in Birmingham city centre.