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Photograph: Shutterstock/Time Out
Photograph: Shutterstock/Time Out

Exclusive: reports of sexual assault in London nightlife venues reached six-year high in 2021

A new Time Out feature, by Chiara Wilkinson, documents the organisations working to make things safer in 2022

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Reports of sexual assault in London clubs, bars, pubs and music venues reached their highest levels since 2016 last year. That’s despite venues being closed or under strict social-distancing guidelines for six months of 2021.

Information requested by Time Out’s staff writer Chiara Wilkinson from the Metropolitan Police revealed that there were 207 reports of sexual assault between January 1 and October 31 last year and a further 29 reports of rape in London nightlife venues. Overall, reports of rape and sexual assault in London venues have increased by almost one fifth since 2016. It’s unclear whether this is due to a rise in reporting or prevalence.

These statistics reflect a national rise in reported rapes. The Office for National Statistics found that the number of rape offences in the year ending June 2021 was the highest ever recorded, with a spike between April and June. Nick Stripe, the head of crime statistics at the ONS, told the Guardian that this might be because high-profile cases and campaigns encouraged victims to come forward. He said: Prior to the pandemic, the number of police-recorded sexual offences was well below the number of victims estimated by the Crime Survey for England & Wales, with fewer than one in six victims of rape or assault by penetration reporting the crime to the police.’

Bryony Beynon, co-founder of Good Night Out, a campaign to improve responses to sexual assault in venues through staff training, told Time Out: ‘There’s going to be a mix [of a rise in reporting and a rise in prevalence]. We have had a pause on nightlife for over a year, so people’s thresholds of what they’re willing to put up with may have shifted. Venues have been put under pressure to make sure that Covid stuff is in place, so they could be co-operating more to actually report things.’

The stats are revealed in a feature published by Time Out today, in which we celebrate the grassroots organisations fighting to change things. You can read it here.

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