A LATE-NIGHT “walking bus” has been set up in the Meadows to ensure students are not making their way through the park alone in the dark following two sexual assaults in the area.
A special hotline has been set up at Edinburgh University for people to call to arrange a chaperone. A team of volunteers are now based in the computer lab in the Hugh Robson Building, in George Square, to take calls from students looking to be accompanied home.
Three or four volunteers out of a pool of around 20 people are on hand each night until 3.30am to walk others to safety.
Co-organiser Hugh Murdoch, a third-year politics student, said: “A number of people have been concerned about their safety walking through the Meadows so we decided to make a pro-active response.”
The move follows a sexual assault on a 21-year-old female jogger who was grabbed by her attacker as she ran past the tennis courts last Tuesday.
The previous week, a 19-year-old girl was raped in the park.
Mr Murdoch added: “We have been going for just under a week now and the take-up is increasing as people find out about it.
“When we get a call we send a man and a woman to walk the person home. The last ‘bus’ leaves at 3.30am, half an hour after the last clubs close. It’s a popular initiative and this is part of a wider campaign focusing on safety around the Meadows.”
The university has also launched the “Walk Safer Scheme”, which pairs up students leaving the main library at the same time so they can walk through the Meadows together.
Emma Meehan, vice-president of societies and activities for Edinburgh University Students’ Association, said: “We had a few e-mail inquiries coming to us from students wanting to know what we are doing because there is a degree of concern about safety on the Meadows. The scheme leaves from the library so it’s specifically aimed at students working late at night.
“From speaking to students, they are very pleased things like the walking bus and Walk Safer Scheme are being put into place.”
Lothian and Borders Police have issued an open letter to students and residents in response to the recent attacks.
Sergeant Steven Duncan said: “Although some crime and antisocial behaviour does occur in the Meadows, I would stress that sexual crime is extremely rare.