Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct

While Cambridge is generally a very safe environment, there have been a number of cases of sexual misconduct by students and staff members. The university takes these cases extremely seriously and provides a number of resources to deal with these cases effectively, openly and fairly. However, the ambiguous relationships between colleges, faculties and the university administration can make it difficult for people who have experienced harassment to know where to turn first. At the same time, the university and many colleges have recently updated their policies around harassment and official complaints, making it hard to keep track of changes. This list is intended to be a short guide to the services and processes currently available within Trinity Hall and the university as a whole.

Sexual Assault and Harassment Advisor

The University’s Sexual Assault and Harassment Advisor, Amy Thompson, is the most valuable contact in any potential cases of harassment or assault. Providing accessible, professional and confidential assistance, the SAHA can provide emotional support and coping strategies for those affected. At the same time, they can help to outline their options for legal and university-level action. Meeting the SAHA can also be an opportunity to talk about a climate of intimidation without making a formal complaint or speak confidentially in support of an ongoing case. The SAHA is also available to provide emotional support and advice relating to sexual misconduct outside or before university. This position is unique within the university and has no equivalent at the college level in Trinity Hall.

You can e-mail Amy at To meet in person, applicants have to fill out the Pre-SAHA form, which can be found here. However, there is no obligation to mention the circumstances of the visit on the form if you would prefer to talk in person.

Complaints Systems

In most cases, sexual misconduct claims will escalate into a formal complaint through either the university or the college. Although college and university systems operate on the same burden of proof, these are not the same system and the SAHA may advise on the best course of action to take. University-level complaints are handled by the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals, OSSCA. College-level complaints have their own procedure – the first point of contact should be a tutor or the college’s Senior Tutor, Dr Clare Jackson. While Trinity Hall has both formal and informal complaints systems, sexual misconduct complaints are treated as formal from the offset. The OSSCA and Trinity Hall processes are largely similar, but there are some small differences. Importantly, where OSSCA allows for anonymous reporting and reports by alumni, please note that Trinity Hall currently discourages anonymous reports and limits the time after graduation in which a report can be made to three months.

You can find out more about OSSCA and the complaints process here and read Trinity Hall’s complaints prodecure here. The Trinity Hall Student Handbook, which covers sexual misconduct complaints specifically in Section 7.5, can be found here.

Local Police

Sexual harassment is a crime, and in many cases, it will be helpful to contact the police before progressing any further. The local police will be able to provide considerable assistance to people who have experienced harassment and outline the process toward bringing the case to court. However, it is worth noting that the police operate on a different definition of proof to the university and Trinity Hall. Where the college and university operate on a ‘balance of probabilities’, in which the more likely of two claims is considered to be true, the police are required to prove harassment ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. This means that in many cases it may be difficult to pursue legal action while still pursuing action at the university or college level.

The number for emergencies is 999 but for non-emergencies the police request that members of the public call 101.

Support Beyond the University

In particularly severe cases, people may wish to look for specialised professional support from outside the university itself. The Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre offers counselling and legal advice to women who have survived sexual assault. Survivors UK is a national charity which operates the same services for men affected by abuse and assault. The Elms is a sexual violence reporting centre open to all regardless of gender, and offer medical examination and care alongside counselling and legal advice.

The Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre can be contacted at 01223 313551 and operates a helpline on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays on 01223 245888. They also operate a support service via email at Survivors UK operates an online helpline available here and you can self-refer for counselling by e-mailing or calling 0203 598 3898. You can call The Elms on 01480 425003 on weekdays, 9am-5pm and 0800 193 5434 out of hours. They are based at Hitchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, around 20 miles from Cambridge.