Full-time students in higher education are known to experience increased levels of victimisation compared to the general population for a number of crimes, including burglary, mugging, violence, and domestic violence. Further, certain student groups may face different personal safety issues: the Revolt Sexual Assault survey revealed that 48% of female students have been sexally assaulted at university; a recent NUS study into the experiences of Muslim students found that 1 in 3 respondents had experienced some type of abuse or crime at their place of study; and a strong campus safety programme is now a key decision-making factor for international students.
For many students, going to university will be their first experience of living away from home, often in an unfamiliar city or country. It is therefore vital that universities equip students with information to help keep themselves and their belongings safe, and clearly communicate the various support options available for students.
One organisation that is working to put student safety at the heart of the student experience is PAHELO — the Police Association of Higher Education Liaison Officers. In partnership with higher education institutions and their student bodies, they aim to reduce crime, and increase trust and reassurance for all those who work, live and study in, or visit, university campuses and communities.
PAHELO reach out to UK police forces and universities to recruit new members. Benefits include the ability to join PAHELO's interactive forum; it keeps members up-to-date on the latest information, news and good practice related to student safety and campus security, and facilitates the sharing of advice and ideas between colleagues. PAHELO also run dedicated workshops for members, enhancing their knowledge and skills to deal with a broad range of student issues, including: sexual assault, crime prevention, bicycle crime, mental health, substance misuse, working with student volunteers, and Freshers' Week concerns.
Universities currently working with PAHELO officers include the Loughborough University beat team who tweet from @LboroUniPolice. They keep students updated throughout the year with safety tips, and create dedicated safety campaigns at 'hot spot' points for crime such as Freshers' Week, Easter and Christmas. Members of the team even do some of their administration work on campus, creating a visible yet approachable police presence and giving students the opportunity to have an informal chat with a police officer.
At De Montfort University, the