Canterbury’s not the worst, but we need to remain safety-conscious
It’s a news story that comes up time and time again – crime in Canterbury. Each year new figures emerge for the student inhabited area, but what do they mean for those living in the historical city? Last month, Canterbury Times revealed the 14 most crime ridden streets in Canterbury so far in 2016, with the majority being on roads along from popular social spots such as Club Chemistry, also a main road, and the rest being in residential areas.
Whether we’re students or full-time residents, we deserve to feel safe walking the streets at any time of day or night, yet with Kent County Council turning off lights all over the city, in places such as the predominantly student residence Hales Place, after midnight, it’s no surprise that students take less secure and out of the way footpaths which are lacking in CCTV and therefore become hotspots for crime. Last term Campus Watch put security in place at the bottom of Eliot footpath on nights that campus had events, such as Soap, making sure that students felt safer on their way home, but they can’t do this across the whole city, as not all students live at the bottom of the hill.
30 per cent of crime between February 2015 and January 2016 was anti-social behaviour, defined by police as behaviour causing harassment, alarm, or distress, covering a multitude of actions. But a crime is a crime, and often it comes down to the severity of the action, with some people deeming some crimes not important enough to report, so the accuracy of these statistics should not be taken as the full picture, as some crime still goes unreported.
Looking at the Kent Police crime map for the area surrounding the University, 15 out of 58 took place in Hales Place in January alone. Predominantly burglaries, we, as residents, need to be more safety-conscious and less trusting, so ensuring that doors are locked and valuables are out of sight should become more of a priority for us to prevent this crime rate getting worse. Wincheap, another area of Canterbury full of students, also has high crime rates, being more central to the city.
During fresher’s week of 2015, the university hired a private security company to patrol known areas for anti-social behaviour outside of campus. Moving to a new city can be scary and for most it’s their first time away from home, so this security was welcomed. However crime happens all year round not just during fresher’s, so whilst it was good for a week while students settle in, what about the other 51 weeks in the year where we are unprotected by these security personnel? Recently, more police foot patrols, often community support officers, have been patrolling known crime areas such as Hales Place, something which I personally welcome, with the knowledge of a police presence locally helping me feel safer, especially at night.
It’s not just Canterbury that has crime, obviously, and we don’t have the worst crime rates across the country, with the top 10 crime ridden University cities predominantly being in the north, with two Manchester universities and two Leeds universities ranking in this top 10. So perhaps we should be grateful that we don’t rank higher, especially having two universities in the city.