Academic Registrar email to students - 12 October 2018
Concerns around safety in Selly Oak have risen following the shocking violent attack that took place on Heeley Road in the early hours of Sunday morning and I wanted to thank those of you who responded to the Police appeal for witnesses. Inspector Murrin, who is leading the investigation, said the response from students to the appeal helped with securing arrests and then charging an individual with this crime within 48 hours of it taking place.
We are posting details of our activities on a dedicated student safety page at intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/stayingsafe. Updates will also be posted on our @unibirmingham social media channels so please check these for more information.
So what are we doing?
Increased Policing in Partnership with the University
From the beginning of November, five full-time warranted Special Constables will be patrolling campus and adjacent Selly Oak; this is called the Blue Line Scheme. The costs of this are being met by the University in partnership with West Midlands Police. This was agreed and new officers appointed during the last academic year in response to student feedback and concerns, and over the past few months the new Specials Constables have received full police training ready to start this autumn. We’ll let you know more about them over the next few weeks with more information due to be posted online before they start.
From the start of term there have been extra police on the streets in Selly Oak to deter crime, provide a visible presence and to do ID checks and vehicle checks. This was planned by the Police in recognition of the fact that student areas across the country are often targeted at the start of an academic year.
In addition, immediately following the incidents at the weekend the Police placed further visible capacity on the local streets to reassure residents and deter criminal activity.
Personal Safety Advice and Support
In addition to the regular drop-in sessions that take place at the Police and Partnership Hub in University Centre (opposite the Spar), every Monday and Friday between 12.00noon-2.00pm, a number of extra sessions on safety and security are being offered. The additional sessions will take place in the Community Living Hub at Bournbrook (near Grange Road Gate) in the coming days and weeks, starting with:
- Tuesday 16 October, 3.30pm-4.30pm, Personal Safety Workshop
- Wednesday 17 October, 12.00pm-2.00pm, Weekly Police and Partnership Drop-in
- Thursday 18 October, 11.30am-12.30pm, Personal Safety Workshop
- Friday 19 October, 1.00pm-2.00pm, Local Government Councillors Drop-in
The University also supplies free personal attack alarms all year round, which are available from the Community Living Hub, the Police and Partnership Hub and the Aston Webb Student Hub.
Throughout this week we have provided additional welfare support via the Aston Webb Student Hub, the Community Living Hub, and via the Welfare Tutors in Schools and Colleges. This will continue, and should you have any need for personal support, I would encourage you to access it via the student intranet.
What else are we doing?
Following our joint meeting with the Guild of Students and the Police we are also exploring how we can influence further improvements that would be led by other parties (e.g. local residents associations, landlords, Birmingham City Council) including enhanced CCTV coverage, better home security, lighting, and leadership in community engagement. Not all of these are within the University’s direct control as in this case we do not own the premises or surrounding property, plus it is not only our students who live in the area but students from other universities as well as local residents. We are however absolutely committed to putting all of our influence and effort into making Selly Oak safer and have already written to the landlords’ body to ask them to work with us on this important issue. This will build on our investment into the gates across Selly Oak that we currently pay to have repaired and reduce access to the alleys running along the back of properties.
Working with the Guild of Students
The Guild join us in our meetings with the Police and we work closely together. Since Sunday I’ve met with the Guild on three occasions to discuss what we are all doing, to hear about the Guild’s work in this area and how we can help each other to support you. This includes the Student Forum event, where students were able to share their views.
The Guild have been able to bring forward a new initiative, the Selly Express (night bus) starting on Monday 15 October, two weeks earlier than originally planned. This was something we jointly agreed last year to provide an additional free service to students. The bus will run from the Library and the Guild every half hour from 8.00pm-1.00am Monday-Friday during term time.
The Community Wardens have also been out and about helping check security of properties and providing safety advice. The Wardens have visited many students in their properties over the last few days.
I hope the details of our work described above reassures you that not only have we been responding to students in the past but also demonstrates how we are redoubling our efforts given the significant concern students have raised with us following the shocking attack.
If you have any suggestions or concerns please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With best wishes