The victim claims that officers wrote down a "random name" on the report since they could not spell her Chinese nameOli Woodman

Content Note: Contains a description of an anti-Asian hate crime and police discrimination

A Cambridge Physics PhD student who was the victim of an anti-Asian hate crime last month (24/10), has claimed that Cambridgeshire police was negligent and discriminatory in the handling of the crime.

Ting (not her real name), who is Chinese, claims that Cambridgeshire police neglected to help her as the racially-motivated crime was taking place and failed to acknowledge the racist nature of the incident. She also describes that the police were discriminatory against her, writing down a “random name” on the report, since they could not spell her Chinese name, and asked for no clarification of the spelling. Another officer, she says, made no effort to pronounce her name correctly. The police’s handling of the case, Ting said, retraumatized her.

The hate crime took place as Ting was walking down Mill Road. A group of around five teenagers began to throw bread at her as she walked past. They then began laughing as they threatened to “break [her] face”, “beat [her] up” and “smash [her] phone”. They hurled racist abuse at her, and repeatedly called her “ugly”. “Our family has lived here since my grandma”, one member of the group shouted, “and you are just immigrants.”

Describing the crime as “nightmare-ish”, Ting says her friend, who tried to protect her, was shoved by the group.

Ting phoned the police while the incident was taking place, but not only did they not send an officer to the scene despite her stating her location, she also says that they failed to listen to how she wanted the case to be handled. An officer noted in the report that Ting did not want to take the allegations further, she says, despite this not being true.

Ting also says that the police officer on the phone questioned the credibility of her claim, stating that her account of the incident was “just [her] words” and that she didn’t know ”what’s actually happening.” When Ting asked the officer if she could hear the teenagers shouting in the background of the phone call, the officer replied that she could “hear some noises”, again negating her experience of the situation. Ting also claims that the officer was rude to her on the phone, despite her obvious distress.

Later in the reporting process, Ting said that the police were discriminatory to her friend. The police officer asked the friend if she could “simplify” her Spanish name by calling her an anglicised version of it.

Meanwhile, while Ting filled in a risk assessment indicating that she felt “very unsafe” walking on the street, an officer told the victim that the possibility of encountering the group was “very low” since she said it was unlikely that they lived in Cambridge. Not only did this incident neglect to acknowledge her fear, she says, but it was also proven not to be true. Ting’s friend, who was involved in the initial incident, was subsequently recognised by the same group of teenagers in Market Square, where they threatened her, and proceeded to follow her for the duration of the evening.

Varsity has previously reported on a growing trend of anti-Asian hate crimes in the Cambridge area, with rates increasing since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. In September, a Chinese Cambridge alumnus Yuanzhao Zhang had his nose broken after being attacked and beaten by a group of roughly ten teenagers also on Mill Road. Several other attacks have also taken place in previous months, which Zhang suspects are connected.


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Despite Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Daryl Preston’s statement following Zhang’s attack, that hate crimes against the Asian community “are being taken very seriously by the Constabulary”, one police officer that spoke to Ting had “no idea” that several attacks had recently taken place against Asian people.

“Maybe this is it,” Ting told Varsity, “Asian people can have random things thrown at them on the street; our names are hard to pronounce and spell so it’s not important; we are not important, at least not to the police in the UK.”

“I don’t deserve to be wondering if I am actually ugly. I don’t deserve to feel unsafe walking alone on the street; I don’t deserve to have my anxiety triggered whenever I see a group of people. I believe the rest of the Asian community doesn’t either.”

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said in a statement: “We have a diverse community in Cambridge and we recognise that everyone should be allowed to live their lives free from harassment and the fear of hate crime.”

They continued: “The force is committed to tackling hate crime and we will do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice. We work hard to encourage victims to come forward so we can take action against those who choose to discriminate and commit hate crimes.”

“All reports help us to build a picture and target our resources where they are needed most”, the spokesperson added.

Commenting on the “systematic apathy“ to anti-Asian hate crimes, Ting said “these kinds of things are happening every week. Do we wait for another person to be beaten up? Does someone more important need to have bread thrown at them? I really don’t know what more I can do to have our voices heard.”

SU BME Officer Tara Choudhury told Varsity that she was “absolutely disgusted to hear that yet another mindless and violent racist attack has taken place in Cambridge. I am even more disgusted to hear that the police have handled this serious incident so appallingly”.

“By immediately contacting the police,” Tara added, "Ting demonstrated commendable level-headedness and bravery. To learn that Ting’s bravery in calling the authorities was met with total ambivalence by trained professionals is beyond concerning."

“Cambridgeshire Police can release as many statements after these attacks as they like - their words will ring hollow until they take decisive action to protect our Asian community.”

Tara added that she would be in touch with the University’s Asian student societies to coordinate a further response to this growing trend of racist abuse, and wanted to reiterate her support for Ting “throughout this difficult time.”

The SU is running an online Police Intervention workshop in collaboration with Sisters Uncut on the 18th November (