Gang youths arrested
Police have arrested two of the masked muggers believed to have been targeting students.
A 17-year-old, from Meanwood, appeared at Leeds Youth Court on Wednesday charged with two of the robberies and a 21-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday and later released on bail pending further enquiries, police said.
The news comes amidst growing pressure on Leeds City Council to step up security on Woodhouse Moor and student areas of Leeds. Almost 1,300 people have signed an ePetition calling for better security measures in the area.
It follows this paper’s coverage of the brutal attacks that left six students needing hospital treatment. Last week we reported that there had been 16 attacks in one weekend by a gang of 15-20 youths.
The University says it has increased the number of security dog patrols on campus following concerns from students. Leeds Student met with representatives of West Yorkshire Police this week as part of our ongoing campaign to improve safety for Leeds students.
A University statement read: “We urge students not to panic. Crime rates do increase in the winter months, particularly during the Halloween and Bonfire weekends that follow the clocks going back. This is a phenomenon that is not just particular to Leeds. Although the recent spate of attacks is unprecedented, the city of Leeds is comparatively safe compared to other major University cities.”
Ian O’Brien, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector and Ben MacDonald, Detective Sergeant and Head of Operation Academy, said: “For many years, Bonfire night weekend has attracted higher levels of crime. This year was particularly heightened but completely non-typical. The police have made arrests of three youths in connection to the attacks made throughout the weekend.”
In a separate incident, two men were charged this week in connection with a “serious sexual assault” on a student by the Headrow in Leeds City Centre last Friday night. Police also revealed on Wednesday that a local thug “with a grudge against students” had been jailed for six years after more than 20 knifepoint robberies and a total of 103 offences including assault, burglary and theft.
Writing in Leeds Student’s Crime Special Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, condemned the attacks: “My student days were among my happiest, and all students have the right to enjoy their time at University, without being unduly burdened by safety concerns. I fully support all efforts by the police, student bodies and other groups to tackle this problem, and I, as the local MP, will of course be working with them to ensure everything possible is being done to address the problems and to catch and punish the individuals responsible for these recent attacks.”
This paper’s coverage of the masked muggers led to national coverage and attracted over 20,000 hits on our website in four days. In this week’s crime special Leeds Student went on patrol with two local police officers to see what it’s like fighting crime in Leeds.
In a sensational week for in the campaign for safer streets it was also announced that:
• 2 Leeds MPs and a councilor had written to the police asking for tougher protection for students
• University stepped up security on campus and in halls of residence
• The Student Exec set up an emergency forum on student safety