The Student Safe Spot (SSS) scheme launched in 2009 in response to the level of street harassment being reported in Bradford City Centre. The initiative is delivered through the collective efforts of City Centre Beat, West Yorkshire Police, Bradford Council, Bradford College, Bradford University and their respective Student Unions, to help members of Bradford's 30,000+ student population if they ever find themselves in a distressing situation.
A wide range of venues and businesses are involved in the scheme, including shops, hotels, bars, theaters and libraries, as well as those on the Bradford University and Bradford College campuses. Participating venues agree to display the Student Safety Spot yellow sticker (above) clearly on their front entrance, to let students know that the venue is part of the scheme and offer a reassuring presence.
During opening hours, SSS venues are a place where students can stop by for a variety of reasons: they may be an international student who is unfamiliar with the area and in need of directions or advice on how to report a crime; they may have lost their money on a night out and require access to a safe taxi home; or they may have been injured or threatened, in which case someone can call the emergency services on their behalf.
An information point must be made available at all SSS venues for students wishing to access support, and staff are given basic training on how to respond. This includes a 'traffic light' document, detailing the different problems that students might face and the level of response expected from SSS members, depending on the nature and severity of the issue. To ensure a swift and effective response, all venues make use of their CCTV facilities, and have essential contact details for the Student Unions, the police and other emergency and support services.
To raise awareness of the scheme and how to access it, a map was created to pinpoint the location of all those involved – this includes information on a 'safe' taxi firm (which provides a student discount and drivers who have been briefed on student safety issues), the Bradford Street Angels patrols taking place, and the contact details for support services. The maps are made available online, and paper copies are distributed at Freshers fairs, as well as at impactive points throughout the academic year such as during Wellbeing Weeks or on the West Yorkshire Police Day of Action. The map also appears on the incident reporting section of Bradford University's free UBU App.
Audits of participating venues take place each year to ensure that the scheme is running smoothly. This is conducted by Steve Longbottom (retired West Yorkshire Police Inspector and City Centre Beat co-founder) along with a Student Intern who is paid for by Bradford University. Together, they check that staff at SSS venues are fully aware of the scheme and what is expected of them, and that the yellow stickers are clearly visible to the public. They also provide the venue with updated information, photographs of repeat offenders and crucially, obtain valuable SSS partner feedback on the scheme and on any safety issues impacting students in the local area.
As the Student Safe Spot scheme continues to develop, it does so through good communication and partnership working between all of its members. Future plans for the scheme include strengthening links with the preferred or 'safe' taxi firm who already appear at Fresher`s fairs and other related safety campaigns, on a designated stand. Members of the firm's management also engage in regular meetings with Student Union management and other SSS members to share ideas, monitor progress and discuss possible developments. A Service Level Agreement Document has now been drawn up to identify the standards that the taxi firm and service users can expect from the agreement, which will be periodically reviewed.