Crime against students is an unfortunate and infamous occurrence in every major student city. However, some university towns are hit particularly hard, with crime stats dramatically increasing in the 2017 academic year. Is this the norm? Is this exaggerated by a spike in social media reports? Student Life Guide investigated to see if criminal activity really is as prevalent as it’s made out to be.
The Complete University Guide revealed that the top ten worst UK cities for crime were as follows:
(statistics reflect number of crimes per 100 residents).
- Courtauld Institute of Art- with 70.4
- London School of Economics- 66.5
- Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts- 62.9
- Teesside- 60.5
- Bradford- 58.5
- Manchester- 56.0
- Bristol- 58.5
- Royal Northern College of Music- 53.7
- Liverpool- 53.2
- Liverpool John Moores- 53.0
Indeed, the BBC reported earlier this year that crime has risen in England and Wales by 13%, passing the 5 million mark for the first time in 10 years. Given that, how has this affected students?
Manchester universities have hit the headlines recently as reports in crime in the main student area, Fallowfield, have soared since September 2017. So much so, in fact, that University of Manchester student, Mathew Harvison, created a petition urging Greater Manchester Police and Mayor Andy Burnham to take further action on the matter. So far, the petition has received over 10,000 signatures. Interestingly, whilst crime across Manchester has increased since last year- with statistics increasing from 31,577 incidents in September 2016 to 32,768 incidents in September 2017- the month with the highest rate of crime in Manchester during 2017 taking place in July, seeing a whopping 37,480 crimes being reported.
Reports have suggested, however, that it is not just the number, but the nature of crimes taking place that is causing greater panic amongst residents. Crimes in the Fallowfield area during the month of September were marked by their distinctively violent nature. One male victim reported being stabbed multiple times in the leg, whilst another was attacked with a crowbar during a knifepoint robbery.
This comes after the revelation in January 2017 that 90% of Manchester students have been victim to crime. A survey conducted of 1,031 participants showed that 9/10 have experienced crime, with women, non-binary and LGBTQ+ students being most greatly targeted.
So, how does this compare to other UK universities?
London has been hit particularly badly, with gun and knife crime rising by 42% in 2017, as compared with the previous year. 774,737 crimes were reported last year, compared to 740,933 the year before showing a worryingly large increase.
But is this just a case of big cities having worse crime? Perhaps.
Although Sheffield came out as the safest large city in the UK, those who topped the charts for safety were smaller cities. York ranked highest for student safety (with just 16 crimes per 100 residents), closely followed by Buckingham (16.1) and Winchester (17.8).
But what is being done to protect students from crime? Loughborough police implemented an interesting new tactic to warn students about the dangers of crime by advertising their message on pasta packets. The message read ‘we’re not here fu-silli reasons’ and included tips on how students can stay safe on the streets and in their houses.
Despite these efforts, students remain concerned about criminal activity against students. Rosa, a Manchester student told us, ‘I’m not sure if it’s worse. The constant postings [on social media] about muggings and burglaries certainly make it seem as if crime has increased. I don’t feel safe. I’m always trying to hide my paranoia so I don’t look like an easy target.
More police patrolling rather than waiting at bus stops would make a difference. However, I think there’s a wider social issue that isn’t being tackled. There is a clear divide between students, generally from privileged backgrounds, and local communities. The lack of communication between students and local communities means the factors that could reduce crime against students take a great deal of time to come into place.’
Is crime against students inevitable? What have your experiences at uni been like? Share your thoughts in the comments below!