Man charged after Lancaster City Council leader 'rape' threat

A man has been charged after the leader of Lancaster City Council was threatened with rape.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 4:56 pm
Coun Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council.

The incident occurred in Fenton Street in the city on Sunday, March 14.

Coun Dr Erica Lewis, the Labour leader of the city council, posted on social media that she was on her way home, when a passing man told her "he could rape me, right there".

She said: "This happens everywhere, everyday to women, young women and girls.

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"If you are a member of a minority community whether constituted on the basis of race, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation it is more likely to happy to you, and less likely that people will pay attention."

The post prompted Lancaster Police to make their own statement, saying that they were made aware that a woman had reported that she had been threatened by a man in the street in Lancaster.

"They said: "As soon as we became aware of this incident we spoke to the woman involved and stepped up patrols in the area and following enquiries we have today arrested a 28-year-old man from Lancaster on suspicion of a public order offence.

"Enquiries are ongoing and we are keen to hear from anyone else who may have been subjected to similar abuse.

"We will always take such incidents seriously and would urge anyone faced with a similar situation to report it to us so we can take appropriate action."

It is the second time a key political figure from Lancaster has been targetted in this way.

In the wake of the death of Sarah Everard in London, thousands of women have shared their experiences of street harassment and assault on social media.

The 33-year-old went missing after walking home from a friend’s house at night.

Reports of the case have prompted women to come forward in large numbers and share their experiences of being harassed or assaulted in public.

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith took to Twitter to share her experience of being followed by a stranger in 2013.

“I was followed home from work in 2013,” she said, “It was by a stroke of luck I saw a police car & flagged down an officer who helped me.

“When questioned, the stalker brazenly said yes he was following me and he got away with it.”

Ms Smith says her story is ‘not particularly remarkable’ due to the myriad number of women sharing their experiences.

Lancashire crime figures show that 970 women were sexually assaulted between 2019 and 2020 and 833 women were raped during the same period.

This is compared to 175 men being sexual assaulted and 59 being raped during this time.

Women in Lancashire are over five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than men and 14 times more likely to be raped.

A 28-year-old Lancaster man has been charged with an offence of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He is due to appear at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court on April 20.