In the Media

Extra police patrols after spate of street attacks hit students in Leeds

PUBLISHED November 25, 2011

Seven incidents take place in 30 minutes in Woodhouse close to the campuses of both the city's universities

Police have increased patrols in one of Leeds' main student areas after seven attacks on young people by a gang of between ten and 15 masked men.

Leeds university has also deployed extra security staff although West Yorkshire police say that there is "there is nothing to suggest that students are being specifically targeted."

Police, student reps, local councillors and Leeds North West's Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland are meeting today, Friday 25 November, to discuss the situation. A large number of young people on the streets after dark in the Woodhouse area are students at either of Leeds' two universities or its further education colleges.

Two young people were injured in a similar brief series of 16 attacks over Bonfire weekend which saw an 18-year-old injured in the face and robbed after a late-night party and a 21-year-old man robbed and attacked with a screwdriver.

The latest incidents, mainly robberies but in two cases involving punches and kicks which needed hospital treatment, took place in half-an-hour between 8pm and 8.30pm on Wednesday 23 November. A statement from West Yorkshire police said that they involved a group of 10 to 15 black males who had their faces covered.

Detectives are looking into whether there are any links to the Bonfire weekend robberies which also took place in Woodhouse, but extended into Little London and Headingley.

They involved incidents in Holborn Approach, Hartley Avenue, Meanwood Road, Devon Road, Blackman Lane, North West Road, Lovell Park Hill, Little London, and Derwentwater Terrace

This week's attacks took place in Leicester Place, Clarkson View, Hartley Crescent, St Mark's Road, St Mark's Street, Hartley Avenue, and Burchett Place. Victims said they were suddenly surrounded and overwhelmed; in one case asked to over a phone but then immediately pushed to the ground and kicked.

Inspector Ian Scott, of Leeds north west inner neighbourhood policing team says:

It is very unusual for us to have a series of robberies of this nature in such a short space of time. We are looking at whether there are any links to aprevious series over the Bonfire weekend although there is nothing to suggest a direct link as it stands. It is clearly possible that more than one group of offenders could be responsible.

We are obviously very concerned and are continuing to focus increased patrols in the area to reassure the community and deter those who are committing these offences.

I think it is important to clarify that there is nothing to suggest that students are being specifically targeted. People who commit these offences are looking for young people who may have valuables such as mobile phones on them and in this area of Leeds students represent a large proportion of those people.

We are carrying out wide-ranging enquiries into each of these incidents and are working closely with university security to ensure we are taking a joined up approach to combating these offences.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind people to think about their safety when out and about. Stick to well lit areas and don't use your mobile phone while walking down the street late at night. If you do have to walk, stay with a group or get a taxi home.

Areas of Leeds north and east of Leeds university have seen previous problems between disaffected youth and/or professional thieves and students with computers and other equipment, often not very securely kept. Chestnut Avenue in Hyde Park was once named as the most burgled street in the UK because of the combination.

Leeds university has increased its security staff from 38 to 44 and is extending CCTV on the edges of its large, inner city campus. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds