Worrying accounts of women being harassed in Cathays

‘A lot of people don’t realise how scary it is for women to be alone, even in the daylight’

POLICE are stepping up patrols in Cathays after reports have emerged this week of a group of people harassing women around the Woodville Road area of Cathays.

Cardiff University student Olivia Hooper, 21, posted her account in the Facebook group Overheard at Cardiff University.

She said: “Girls walking alone please be careful as I’ve just been followed by a middle-aged man off Woodville Road who was trying to grab me by the waist, talking about me inappropriately and trying to follow me home.

“He was asking where I lived and if he could come to my house. Only got rid of him by saying I was meeting a friend round the corner, and he ran off. This literally happened in broad daylight and has really shaken me up so be careful.

“He was 5ft8 ish, dark shaved hair and middle aged wearing a black hoodie, and trousers. There was a large group of them by Irie Shack which I presume he was a part of.”

Heather Richards, a 20-year-old Cardiff University student added: “I’ve also had men asking for nude pics walking down Woodville Road in the day.

“A lot of people don’t realise how scary it is for women (and also men considering spiking) to be alone even in the daylight.”

Cathays resident, Katy Rimington, posted: “The men approached me and my friend around 8pm one night and told us not to run away.

“Then a few more of them came out of nowhere on their scooters and were running after us.

“Luckily, we are waiting on a lift from our friend so we were able to get in his car.”

Superintendent Michelle Conquer, from South Wales Police, said: “I am sorry to hear what these women have experienced in Cathays and would encourage them to please make contact so we can fully investigate and offer support in a sensitive and respectful manner.

“Following this information, we are paying particular to Woodville Road and increasing our patrols in the area. Our Neighbourhood Policing Team is planning a street surgery where residents can raise concerns and also a Cuppa with a Copper event at The Woodville.

“Tackling violence and abuse against women and girls is a long-standing priority for South Wales Police and we recognise that concern regarding personal safety and violence is as great as it has ever been.”

Bee Evans, 21, who is originally from Somerset, but now lives in Cathays, posted her story in Overheard at Cardiff University.

She said: “Be careful walking from Richards Street to Woodville Road, a group were stood on the corner opposite Irie Shack just stood in my way and wouldn’t let me pass then tried to take my airpods out of my ears.  

“They only moved when I shouted at them. The guys in the vape shop are aware and are ringing 101 but be careful just in case.”

She also added: “A lot of female students think the university should sponsor some self-defence items like rape alarms so we can have easier access to them.”

Clara Greening, a third year student at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama,  commented on Bee’s post, saying: “I also had an encounter with them earlier.

“They laughed and shouted at me parking and when me and my flat mate were just trying to unload the car one of them walked up to me asking me random questions and tried to get close enough to touch me.

“Luckily, my flat mate was with me and we just left as quick as possible.

“It’s just frustrating and worrying that issues like this pop up more frequently and people have to deal with them whether they have to confidence to or not.”

These reports have led to local restaurant owner Roger Hanson, 46, offering Kafe Makasih as a safe place for people who are getting unwanted attention.

Kafe Makasih’s post in Overheard at Cardiff University on Monday.

He added: “Reading some of the posts in Overheard at Cardiff University, I saw that some students have been made to feel uncomfortable or intimidated by individuals or groups in the area where Kafe is.

“As part of the community in Cathays, I feel that we can offer a safe space for anyone in the area who is getting unwanted attention.”

After similar experiences, Meg Jones, a 21-year-old Cardiff Metropolitan student said: “This left me feeling very unsafe, where I felt safe before. I’d never experienced anything like it.

“It’s left me feeling really uneasy in the area.”

Superintendent Conquer added: “As part of the UK Government’s strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, we are part of the trialling of a new online tool called StreetSafe, which allows people to pin-point locations where they have felt unsafe and to identify why that location made them feel unsafe.

“Using that information we can then direct our patrols and, with partners, make improvements to infrastructure such as lighting and CCTV.

“South Wales Police will continue to do everything possible to keep communities safe and to ensure that people feel safe when going about their everyday business.”

Initiatives such as the Cardiff Safety bus, have helped 1,500 people be taken to a place of safety this academic year alone.

South Wales Police have reminded Cathays residents that there are alternatives to calling 101, and encourage people to come forward to report non-urgent incidents: