A TOP university has been accused of complacency over student safety after it advised staff not to “worry unnecessarily” about reports of robberies near its campus – two days before another wave of attacks.
Leeds University has tightened security after 10 victims, including nine students, were robbed by a masked gang.
The assaults last Wednesday came two days after the university’s press office sent a message to staff, claiming the scale of a spate of crimes over the Bonfire Night weekend, had been “distorted and exaggerated” by local media.
The memo, seen by the Yorkshire Post, read: “We want our students and staff to be safe by taking sensible precautions in terms of their personal safety, without worrying unnecessarily about some of these misleading headlines.”
John McNamara, whose son Danny was hospitalised after being stamped on by robbers, said: “Most definitely, there is a hint of complacency in this email.
“When I have met with university staff subsequent to the attack, I have seen they are now taking things a lot more seriously. But if they had taken the first attacks a lot more seriously, my son might never have been a victim. It leaves me feeling rather aggrieved.”
The university said suggestions of complacency were “untrue”.
It said half-hourly patrols were introduced after the Bonfire Night assaults and the message was to dispel rumours following what it called “misleading and sensationalist reporting” by the Leeds Student university newspaper.
Security was improved further after last week’s attacks with more patrols and a free shuttle bus service to halls of residence.
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said the attacks had been “sporadic and random” and had not specifically targeted students.
“Having met police, councillors, student representatives and representatives from the universities last week, it was clear that everyone was committed to reassure people and to ensure those responsible are caught and punished,” he said.