News Editor Joseph Timan speaks to former Guild Officer Izzy Lenga ahead of her bid to be elected NUS VP for Welfare at national conference next weekWritten by Joseph Timan on 22nd April 2017
Crime Wave Grips Selly Oak
Women in Selly Oak have been advised not to walk home alone after a string of indecent exposure attacks have taken place in the area
There have been five attacks reported since 20th November where women have been approached by a man wearing a mask. In two of these attacks the women have been threatened with a knife.
The first two incidents happened in the early hours of Sunday the 20th on Lottie Road. A man wearing a gorilla mask pushed a passer-by, while holding a knife and exposing himself.
Later that day, a man beckoned to a resident on her doorstep who immediately closed her door.
On Thursday the 24th, there was another incident when a young woman was grabbed and threatened by a man on Hubert Road wearing a gorilla mask and exposing himself. After a struggle, she managed to get away.
The attacks have caused concern among students in particular with some telling Redbrick, ‘I am really worried now when I come back from uni late. I never felt unsafe in Selly before, I always took it as scaremongering, but now I try to change my plans so I don't have to walk around Selly in the dark alone.’
“'I never felt unsafe in Selly before, I always took it as scaremongering, but now I try to change my plans'
Second year Materials Engineering student Fran Cumming said that it was ‘scary as fuck’.
While English and Philosophy student Izzy Hendley told Redbrick that, ‘the crime wave has left me fearful, I physically tremble at the thought of going out alone which is ironic as I live a lonesome and isolated lifestyle.’
While none of the women have been physically hurt, the incidents have left them understandably shaken.
Police state that they have ‘flooded’ the area with plain clothes officers in an attempt to catch the perpetrator. They are also searching CCTV to see if it can be helpful.
The offender is believed to be a slim, white male with short grey hair, aged in his 40s or 50s and about 5ft 7ins tall.
The crimes are not just affecting women however, with an increase in muggings also being reported. One male second year History student was mugged in the early hours of Monday morning at knife point and had his wallet and phone taken.
He described the incident to Redbrick: ‘I came home from work at around 12 and two guys walked towards me, with hoods up covering their faces. One held a knife to my throat and told me to empty my pockets or he’d cut my throat. So I did, the other guy patted me down and they walked down Dawlish and attempted to mug someone else on Exeter Road’.
“'One held a knife to my throat and told me to empty my pockets or he’d cut my throat'
He also commented that the police ‘haven’t done a thing yet’.
Another mugging victim from earlier this month took to Facebook to explain what happened to him: ‘About 24 hours ago I was mugged by 5 men. Me and a friend were walking around Selly Park when we were restrained and forced into an alleyway where I was 'relieved' of my wallet, phone and ID. Fortunately I wasn't physically harmed and none of my friend's possessions were stolen, but I'm still a little shaken by this.’
The victim told Redbrick, ‘the police’s reaction was rather swift and a bit more sympathetic than expected. When I was giving my statement, it sounded like they have dealt with cases like this before.’
'They didn’t sound too surprised, almost like they expect this sort of thing to happen’, he continued. ‘The receptionist I talked to in the station said that there were far more incidents being registered, even if some of them were unsuccessful muggings or encounters’, Redbrick was told.
“'(The police) didn’t sound too surprised'
Izzie Nicholds, Guild Housing and Community Officer, released a statement on the Guild website advising students on ways to keep safe in Selly. The list includes: personal safety equipments that are available from UoB Security (located in Aston Webb) and safety alarms that are available for free from the Community Wardens/Student Mentors (located at Guild Advice). For further advice, it is recommended to speak with members of the police at the Uni Centre or the station located on Bournville Lane.
During this period the police appeal for increased diligence in the Selly Oak area. If you have any information call the police immediately on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.