Students report feeling unsafe at night on and around campus at the University of Leicester.
While most students say they feel safe on campus during the day because it is busy and open, many feel that there is not enough security presence, especially in the evenings.
Maryam, a criminology undergraduate student who commutes, said, “At night I don’t feel very safe when walking around campus, particularly University Road because it’s quiet at night.”
As the nights become longer, some students are becoming anxious about going to and from campus for lectures and seminars, especially those who commute from home. With some lectures and seminars finishing when its already dark, students become anxious about travelling home or back to accommodation safely.
University should be an exciting experience for students where they can take part in new experiences and meet new people as they transition into young adults, all whilst feeling safe.
Tahirah, an undergraduate student, said: ‘’I feel safe when walking with someone else or a group of friends, if I’m by myself not so much. Because there’s less people around at night, I feel more vulnerable.’
The British Crime Survey shows that women aged between 16 and 24 are more likely to be a victim of violent crime. This reflects the consensus that across the country it is mostly young women who feel unsafe.
Another student said: “I feel safe majority of the time, but I have heard of incidents like the Nixon Court stabbing earlier this year that make me worried.”
Adam, a criminology undergraduate stated he was worried about “the fake dodgy taxis hanging around the O2 after evening events.”
Following raised awareness about this, an email was sent out to address safety concerns which said, “We have been made aware of some safety concerns regarding fake taxi/uber drivers offering to collect students after nights out at the O2.”
The email also included, “Please ensure that you take the ID numbers/names of drivers and the registration number of the vehicle before getting inside so that you can message the information to a friend/family member. If the driver is legitimate, then they will have no issue in sharing this information with you.”
To tackle students’ anxiety about safety, increased security presence around the campus can make students feel more safe and secure.
Bismah Ghafoor, a student at the University said: “I don’t really see them (security guards).”
The head of security at the university, Laurence Perkins said: “We have 57 security staff members, and I made a commitment that there would always be a manager every shift.”
“My team operate 24/7, 365 days a year. In the last 14 years that I have worked in security there has been a big shift in security, from securing assets like locking windows and buildings to the safety of people. My focus is people.”
The SafeZone app has become a popular safety precaution that many students use to report crime or issues: “There are 10,000 people using the SafeZone app.”
Mr Perkins added: “When someone sends an alert through SafeZone, all members of security get a message to ensure a fast response, and it has been very successful. You can share your location, report anonymously, and add photos to report issues.”
To reassure students, Mr Perkins added, “We do community patrols where we have key times for when students arrive and leave, especially when it gets dark. My team are always at work.”
Clearly all these extra security details are encouraging feelings of safety amongst some students. Imaan, an undergraduate student at the university, reported feeling safe on campus and said, “There’s big consequences for both students and staff if anything happens to anyone, so I feel pretty safe.”
The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that there were 1.5 million violent offences in the year ending March 2022, suggesting that violence is prevalent across the UK. However, the crime rate on and around campus is very low, which should reassure students to feel safe and protected while studying at university.
If you do feel unsafe while on or around campus, use the SafeZone app to alert the security team who will aim to attend to you as soon as possible. Find out more about Safezone here.
In an emergency, call 999.
Written by: Hannah Houghton is a first-year student studying BA Journalism. She holds an interest in print and magazine journalism, and she hopes to pursue a career in this. Hannah currently works as a freelance junior content writer where she writes faith-based and charity content. As a Muslim female, she hopes to bring more diversity into journalism and give a voice to the voiceless. She also enjoys travelling, reading and photography. Find her on Instagram: @hannah.the.writer
Photography by: Photography by: Mathias Buytaert. You can find other examples of his work on his Instagram: @mathiasbtrt, and his website is https://www.mathiasbuytaert.com/.