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No further action over two reported rapes at Latitude 2017

Latitude Festival Waterfront stage. Photo by Ben Gibson

Latitude Festival Waterfront stage. Photo by Ben Gibson

BEN GIBSON

No further action will be taken over two allegations of rape made at Latitude Festival last summer and only a handful of crimes were reported during the three day event.

The event in 2017 was the first time any serious sexual assaults had been reported at the festival for at least five years, according to data released by Suffolk Constabulary under the Freedom of Information Act.

Two reports of rape were made - by a girl aged under 16 and a female aged over 16. There were also three reports of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and 12 drug offences.

The most common crime, in line with other festivals, was theft, but with only 28 reports at the “small town” of between 40,000 and 50,000 people at Henham Park near Southwold over a weekend in July.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “The number of people attending the event each year means Latitude Festival has a population equivalent to the size of a small town.

Mike Page aerial pictures of Latitude festival in Henham Park, Suffolk. Photo : Steve AdamsMike Page aerial pictures of Latitude festival in Henham Park, Suffolk. Photo : Steve Adams

“With the picturesque setting, the chance to see a wide variety of acts and a relaxed atmosphere it can be easy to forget about safety and security and this assist those who might be keen to take advantage of visitors lowering their guard.

“The main crime at music festivals across the UK tends to be thefts from tents on campsites. In previous years there have been a number of such offences, many on the first night of the festival when it’s likely that criminals target tents on the assumption that those camping are settling in, have not made plans for their security and may have withdrawn cash to see them through the weekend.”

Planning for Latitude 2018 is underway and Suffolk Constabulary said they are working with organisers to ensure that the festival weekend is as safe as possible.

They added “limited investigative opportunities” meant no further action would be taken over the two reports of rape, but “detailed enquiries were carried out”.

“In one case the victim didn’t want to take the case any further and in the second the parties were known to each other,” said a spokesman. “Investigating allegations of rape is a sensitive issue and all reports are taken extremely seriously, and dealt with sensitively by police. The welfare of the victim is of the utmost importance and support is offered at all stages to ensure their needs are met and that the appropriate services are provided.”

Safety tips for Latitude 2018

With Latitude 2018 approaching between July 12 and 15, police have issued safety advice for festival goers.

-Set up camp near friends, make friends with your neighbours and learn the layout of the site.

-Moderate your alcohol consumption.

-Remember no means no. Too much alcohol and the heat of the moment can lead to issues of consent. Don’t take advantage of situations that are alcohol-fuelled or the consequences could be arrest, a court appearance and a prison term.

-Make use of the property Storage Tent onsite, open 24 hours, to store your valuables and possessions securely.

-If you arrive by car don’t leave anything in your vehicle, including satellite navigation systems/ CDs, cash etc. Take everything with you or leave it at home.

-Bags with shoulder straps should be worn across your chest, with the fastening towards your body. Rucksacks should be kept closed and not left unattended.

-Use the lockers provided in the village.

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