Students do not feel safe in South Manchester and not enough is being done to support them.
That’s the view of University of Manchester student Henry Carey-Morgan, who was the victim of a burglary.
The 22 year old was sat with a friend in the living room of his property on Kingswood Road, Fallowfield when a brick was thrown through his bedroom window, which had blinds that were closed at the time, and his laptop was then taken from the bedroom.
The incident was reported to Greater Manchester Police at 12:30 AM on the 15th of January and the student was told that an officer would be along shortly but was called three hours later to say that no-one was available.
Henry said: “I received an apologetic call saying that no one was available and would I prefer to wait up or see someone in the morning. I had an exam that day so I went with morning and was told an officer would come by between 7 and 8 AM but no-one arrived and I didn’t get another phone call.
“Then at half three in the afternoon [of the 15th], I got a text message saying my case had been filed in the event further evidence should come to light.
“I understand it’s not an emergency and that the police are busy but the thousands of students who live in Fallowfield are part of this community too and we deserve to be treated as such.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when the people who are meant to protect us don’t even bother to show up. “
The Physics with Philosophy student said that the police were helpful on the phone and felt the problem could lie more with a lack of available resources to the police.
On the 16th of January 2018, MP for Manchester Gorton, Afzal Khan, spoke about the issue of police funding in Parliament and said:
“Greater Manchester police has faced eight years of real-terms cuts and has lost 2,000 officers. Week after week, constituents come to my surgery in deep distress over antisocial behaviour, muggings and burglaries to which the police cannot attend. As a former police officer myself, I know that they are doing the best that they can.”
In response, Conservative MP Liz Truss said that the government “have given police authorities the power to raise additional precept to be able to deal with those issues,” adding that “it is a decision for Greater Manchester police.”
Based on his experience, Henry did question whether or not students’ concerned were always taken seriously by police.
The third-year student said “It feels like students, perhaps because individually we are temporary in Manchester we are slightly sidelined.
“There’s almost no police presence in Fallowfield and although my incident wasn’t lethal there have been other occasions of students being threatened with knives.”
A petition started in 2017 titled ‘Greater Manchester Police & Andy Burnham: Help us to make Fallowfield safe for students!’ received almost 10,000 signatures.
In response to student safety concerns, the University of Manchester Students’ Union proposed a ‘Night Owl‘ scheme where student volunteers would be trained in first aid, safeguarding, well-being training, and self-defence to safeguard vulnerable people.
This was due to launch in January of 2018 but is currently under review following initial criticism of the scheme.
Commenting on the ‘Night Owl’ proposals, Henry Carey-Morgan said: “It is a substitute for more police, which is obviously not ideal, but if the GMP’s resources really are spread that thin and they simply can’t afford to have more officers in Fallowfield then it’s either schemes like this or nothing.
“I think it’s a good idea if it’s taken seriously, it will increase the general presence on the street aiding the lack of resources issue and also create stronger ties between students and the GMP.”
Greater Manchester Police was contacted for comment on the burglary and the support they give to students in relation to safety but did not provide a comment.
Anyone with any details in relation to the burglary can contact police on 101, quoting 0037 on the 15th of January.