By Sarah Jewers
A local events company is working in collaboration with a security company to prevent further attacks along an alleyway in Headingley.
Late Monday night, directors from Fresh2Death and True Security Solutions decided to work together to put a security man at each end of the alleyway running next to Headingley Stadium, to prevent any further reported sexual assaults and muggings.
This follows reports circulating of an assault in the alleyway last week as well as the increased awareness that there were 466 sexual assaults in Leeds North West in August alone.
However, a spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police was quoted by Leeds Live as saying that a reported attack on 22 October had not been submitted to them.
Operations director of the True Group, under which TSS falls, Paul Bampton, 45, said: “If any young person doesn’t feel safe just walking home from a night out or going to visit a friend it’s very ridiculous.”
A licensed security presence will be along the alleyway 6-11pm each night to ensure young people walking home from either University or local licensed venues are safe.
In Fresh2Death’s Facebook post, the company also cited the continued support that students have given them during the current pandemic as another motivator, as well as the wish to ensure student safety.
Whilst this is a temporary fix, Danny Harrison, 32, director of Fresh2Death, hopes that a local company stepping in will elevate student voices so a more permanent fix can be put in place by the council.
Danny said: “I don’t think it’s fair that students should have to demand and hold protests to be made safe.”
Prior to Danny’s post on the Leeds Student Group on Facebook about the new security, a group named Reclaim Headingley Stadium Alleyway began a petition to implement safety features along the alley and at the time of writing, it has had over 9,300 signatures.
The group have then gone on to organise a flyering protest on Friday midday, to raise awareness about the dangers of the alley and to campaign for the alleyway to be locked from 11pm until morning.
When asked about the new Fresh2Death and TSS collaboration, Rhiannon Griffiths, the political & campaigning officer for the Leeds University Union Abuse Awareness Society, and co-organiser of Reclaim Headingley Stadium Alleyway said: “We will be working closely with them and making sure they understand that women and vulnerable groups come first.”
This comes as there have been some concerns expressed about private companies stationing men in positions of power here, but also of private companies doing the council’s work for them.
Rebecca Illidge, 21, president of LUU Feminist Society said: “Obviously it’s a first step but the solution should not stop here and should be something a little more permanent and actioned by the council.”
Following the Fresh2Death announcement, Labour North West MP Alex Sobel has said that he is “extremely concerned to hear reports of serious sexual assaults in the alleyway.
“I understand the local ward councilors Cllr Al Garthwaite, Cllr Neil Walshaw , and Cllr Jonathan Pryor are looking into installing CCTV at key points along the alleyway.”
Both Paul and Danny suggested increased CCTV, perhaps linked with the stadium’s own security, as well as cutting back supposed security bushes, increasing police foot patrols and increasing lighting.
Along with Danny’s Facebook post, he also created a GoFundMe to get contributions towards the security presence, but now thinks there is enough excess to also contribute towards a security camera as the total has now reached £1,735 at the time of writing.
Danny said: “I thought that it was just going to be something we could do to raise awareness and maybe raise a little bit of money for security, but I was prepared to pay for everything else.”
Rhiannon wants to ensure that the community take precedence and that in the end, it’s the council that take action.
Rhiannon said: “It isn’t just about locking the alleyway but about making Leeds council do something on a broader scale to make Leeds safe.
“I think there is an ability to collaborate as Fresh2Death have done, but the local community should take precedence.”