In what has been coined a “street MOT”, members of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and Manchester City Council have inspected streets that students believe to be hot spots for crime.
Voted the most dangerous by students in the Facebook Fallowfield Student Group, the five streets in question were Braemar Road, Brailsford Road, Ladybarn Lane, Edgerton Road, and Old Hall Lane near Rusholme.
The inspection team of of PC Pete Baldwin, community safety specialist Adrian Hopkins, and crime reduction specialist Katifa Islam told The Mancunion that the five streets named by students do not actually correlate to crime statistics and that other places in Fallowfield appear to be at more risk.
Speaking to The Mancunion, Adrian Hopkins said, “the perception of crime isn’t actually where most of the crime is happening. What is more crippling than crime is the fear of crime.
“Over a five year period crime in Greater Manchester is lower than it has ever been. However, in Fallowfield, crime is slightly up.
“As a team, we will walk out onto those five streets and see if there is anything in particular that stands out. This is so we can do something quickly to address what students are saying.”
Housemates and student nurses Catherine Lawrence and Melissa Stephens commented on the ‘Street MOT’: “we live on Egerton road and it’s nice to see the police making an effort to keep Manchester students safe. We are looking forward to seeing improvements in the area.”
Whilst the team were working, Adrian Hopkins indicated that foliage such as branches and bushes needed to be trimmed, suggesting that they sometimes they can serve as hiding spots for criminals or obstruct street lighting.
PC Pete Baldwin is the student liaison officer for Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester. He advised students to have a look at the GMP Facebook and Twitter pages for safety advice and updates.
When asked by The Mancunion about what students can do to feel safer, Pete said that, “irrespective of where students have come from, they’ve got to be aware of their own environment. This is a metropolitan 24-hour city.
“The message we are trying to send is to make sure that visually your address looks secure.”
Coming up to the Christmas period, many students will be leaving their homes vacant.”Its usually on the run up to Christmas where the majorities of burglaries happen,” Adrian Hopkins told us.
The GMP and the council are trying to tackle this by providing free personal alarms and 24 hour light timers that can be collected free of charge from Manchester Student Homes by all students.
Katifa Islam, a crime prevention specialist for the GMP, said, “the 24 hour segment timers are great because you plug them in before it starts getting dark and it looks like someone is in the house by switching lights on and off periodically.”
Student safety has become a major source of concern since the start of the 2017/18 academic year — to such a point that 10,000 people signed a petition urging authorities do to do more to protect students in South Manchester.
Though, an investigation by The Mancunion suggested that students’ growing reliance on anecdotal information from Facebook groups was helping to escalate fears about crime.
Commenting on communications, Adrian Hopkins said, “one of the things we admit we haven’t been very good at is passing out messages about what the council and police are doing to help.”
The Communities Officer of Manchester University’s Student Union, Jack Houghton, told The Mancunion that, “at the meetings I have been to so far there is an attitude of wanting to improve. The overall message is extremely positive and I have been very pleased with the response from the council and the police.”
Seeking to address student safety concerns, the Communities Officer has proposed a ‘Night Owl’ scheme, in which students volunteers would learn first aid, safeguarding, well-being training, and self-defence.
This scheme was criticised by students, with one student describing it as “almost offensive to anyone that’s been assaulted, threatened, stabbed or mugged.”