An innovative burglary-busting project at the University of Leicester has received a big boost following a successful bid by Leicestershire Constabulary for £30,000 from the Home Office.
The money will go towards crime prevention measures for student properties in parts of Leicester.
The Student Welfare Service at the University has recently tapped into the ‘Banish’ scheme which, as part of the local Crime and Disorder Partnership, has already successfully reduced crime in the Highfields area of the city.
Under the new ‘Burglary Reduction Project’ the police now liase with the Welfare Service at the University following any theft at a student property. This results in the property being given extra security, free of charge - so-called ‘target-hardening’. The intention is to reduce repeat offences against the same property.
Inspector Neil Canham from Leicestershire Constabulary is delighted with the success of this bid. He is responsible for policing the Highfields area and recognises that students in particular need information and practical assistance to increase their safety. He has worked with the University throughout the past year devising methods of heightening awareness in order to make all areas of Leicester safe places to live.
With the announcement that there will now be an extra £30,000 worth of resources to help in the fight against crime towards students in Clarendon Park and Highfields, it is expected that around 300 properties will be fitted with good quality window and door locks, and smoke alarms.
The new money will go directly to the City Council who will be responsible for the work involved in fitting the security devices.
Clare Taylor, Senior Welfare Officer at the University of Leicester, said of the ‘Burglary Reduction Project’: “Students who choose to live in Highfields are often financially disadvantaged. They are therefore, vulnerable. Fortunately, the new scheme seems to be very successful. Usually by this time in the year reported burglaries are into double figures; there have only been three so far. What’s more we are avoiding the anxiety and trauma which are the inevitable repercussions of burglary.
“Students have enough to cope with, often inexperienced and living away from home, balancing both studies and financial demands. This scheme goes part way towards alleviating some of their pressures.”
The University is one of only two academic institutions in the UK offering a university co-ordinated crime reduction scheme.
As well as liasing with the Students’ Union to pinpoint the properties that need safety improvements both the Welfare Service and the Police are endeavouring to raise awareness of safety and security issues. Students are given information during talks in Halls of Residence before looking for somewhere to live. Security packs are distributed by the police to all students living in the private rented sector at the beginning of the academic year. The Students’ Union runs a subsidised mini-bus service to get students home safely. Ripple, the Students’ Union newspaper,also works to keep safety and security as a focus for all students, particularly those new to living in the City.
The University also employs a part-time Community Liaison Officer who is partly responsible for the pastoral care of students living in the private rented sector and for maintaining links with community action groups. This project furthers the service provided by the Welfare Service which is also responsible for the pastoral care of students living in University self-catering accommodation.
Note to newsdesk: For more information please contact Clare Taylor on 0116 223 1187.
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