Students at a British university are being paid to act as sexual assault look-outs on nights out, it has emerged.
Sheffield University students are employed to attend club nights where they can encourage students to make complaints against one another.
The so-called “safety stewards” are given training in advance to help them deal with harassment.
Though they are told not to “intervene” in any disputes, they are taught to refer potential victims to the authorities to help them complain.
The stewards play a part in an increasingly robust “zero tolerance policy” towards sex assaults at Sheffield.
Describing the system in an interview with Heat Street, Sheffield SU women’s officer Serena Cavasin said: “If they see one student is visibly upset, and they might have not seen what happened, they can say: ‘We’ve got this zero tolerance policy to sexual harassment, so if you want to come with me and if you want to talk to security we can note down this has happened so we can take action.'”
The stewards also serve more benign purposes, including looking after students who drink too much or are separated from their friends.
But increasing efforts by universities and students’ union to combat sexual assault on campus could see their involvement in criminal cases increase.
The institutional drive at Sheffield reached worrying heights earlier this year when the university announced plans to store security footage of alleged attacks even if the victim decides not to pursue the complaint.
A report in The Sheffield Tab said that security staff would try to acquire footage of contested events and keep it on file in case the alleged victim wanted to make a complaint later.
However, Heat Street can reveal that the scheme is likely to be dropped because of privacy concerns.