A TERRIFIED young woman cries out as she is violently assaulted and has her clothes ripped off along a busy road, a split second decision must be made as to whether to intervene or not.
According to a new Downing Street report you would probably walk on by.
The report carried out by Government advisor Louise Casey is based on the views of 13,000 people about our justice system and concludes that most people wouldn’t intervene due to fears for their own safety or of being arrested.
The report found there was a “strong view from the public that they would no longer intervene if they saw a crime.
This is symptomatic of reduced public confidence in the crime-fighting agencies, leading to a greater reluctance on the part of decent, law-abiding members of the public to play their part in tackling crime”.
Ms Casey warned that this reluctance to help is destoying the sense of community spirit and has the potential to allow crime to “strangle whole neighbourhoods”.
However, others claim people are justified in holding back as violent crime has been on the increase and people are facing a greater risk of danger.
“Given violent crime is on the increase it’s completely understandable for people not to put tehmselves in danger by trying to stop a victim being attacked. And in most cases their fears about being injured themselves are justified,” said Mark Forsett of Victim Support.
“Our advice would be not to be a hero, if there’s going to be one victim we don’t want two or three,” he added.
The report comes after the highly-publicised attack of Sophie Lancaster who was beaten to death by a gang after she tried to stop them attacking her boyfriend.
Sophie’s mother, Sylvia said her daughter would still be alive today if she had not tried to intervene but believes Sophie did the right thing.
“The world would be a much worse place if people just walked on by. There’s never an excuse for doing nothing. Even if they don’t want to get involved everyone has a mobile phone they can use to call the police.” she said.
In february a 20-year-old woman was subjected to a violent attack on a busy road in Stockton-on-tees in which at least five cars drove by ignoring her cries for help.
A spokesman for the Association for Chief Police Officers said the issue of whether to intervene or not was up to the individual.
“We would not advise anyone to put themselves at risk in a way they are uncomfortable with,” he said.
The issue of members of the public intervening to help victims is particularly relevant in Northern Ireland after security Minister Paul Goggins yesterday revealed more than 450 young people were threatened and injured with knives in the last five years.
He disclosed just over 100 of these incidents occured in the last 12 months, with Belfast being the worst affected area.