University of Cambridge reveals 'significant' sexual misconduct problem

The University of Cambridge has admitted it has a "significant problem" with sexual misconduct.

Some 173 complaints were received between May last year, when the university launched an anonymous reporting system, and the end of January 2018.

Cambridge is the first to disclose the number of reports from the system, which is now being used by other institutions.

Some 119 complaints were made by students alleging sexual misconduct against other pupils.

Two students made complaints against staff and seven employees complained about colleagues.

The remaining complaints were not related to staff or students and some are thought to be historic.

In a blog on the university's website, professor of English private law and pro-vice chancellor for education, Graham Virgo, wrote that the data "supports our belief that we have a significant problem involving sexual misconduct".

He added: "What we now need to ensure is that those who have been affected received the support and guidance they need.

"We expected high numbers (of reports), and view it as a metric of success.

"It appears victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, and to act on it accordingly."

The University of Cambridge launched a Breaking the Silence campaign in October last year, which it said had prompted the second-largest spike in reports of sexual misconduct.

Mr Virgo said: "The early signs of the impact of Breaking the Silence are encouraging. Before the campaign, 52% of those reporting recent incidents thought nothing would be done if they made a complaint.

"Following the launch, that has dropped to 30%. Clearly, there is work still to do, but the campaign’s message that those who report will be supported and action can be taken is starting to have an impact."

The anonymous reporting tool on the univeristy's website also allows people to report harassment and hate crime.