Essex

University of Essex: New sexual assault code brought in

University of Essex Image copyright University of Essex
Image caption Complaints lodged with the University of Essex are meant to be concluded within 60 days

A university accused of "silencing" students who have made sex assault complaints is setting up a new code of conduct.

An investigation by the BBC and a student journalist exposed flaws in the University of Essex complaints system.

It revealed long delays in dealing with allegations of sexual violence.

The university, which is bringing in the code by the autumn term, has issued an apology and said students would be encouraged to go to the police.

The investigation found the university aimed to deal with complaints within 60 days but a number had taken a year.

A Freedom of Information request found four cases in which the university said: "The complainant did not wish to take the matter to the police."

'Advice and support'

Three students said they regretted not going to the police before alerting the Student Conduct Office.

Bryn Morris, university registrar, said: "We have reviewed the cases highlighted by the BBC and have provided face-to-face advice and support to the students involved.

"I recognise that our procedures are overly complicated and bureaucratic... It is not acceptable that 20% of cases are not concluded within 60 days."

He said the university wanted students who are victims of crime to "report incidents to the police".

"We will review how advice is provided to students at every stage of our support and student conduct processes to ensure that students feel encouraged and supported in raising matters with the police," he added.

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