Student safety at the University of Kent
With the introduction of the University’s new SafeZone app, InQuire chose to investigate how the crime levels have changed at the Canterbury campus over the past five years after submitting freedom of information (FoI) requests to the three emergency services.
The statistics have been largely positive, finding that Kent Police and Fire Rescue Service call outs have been steadily declining over the past five academic years. The year 2011/12 shows significantly higher figures for visits from these services. In that year, Kent Police visited 103 times. In contrast, from September 2015 to the end of March 2016, when FoI responses were received by InQuire, the police only came to campus on 32 occasions. In total, emergency services came to the University almost twice as often in 2011/12 with 206 call outs to 2015/16’s 108 call outs.
The South East Coast Ambulance Service has had a consistent number of visits to the Canterbury campus. In 2011/12, ambulances were called 78 times, in the 2015/16 data, they had already attended 73 times with three months of term left.
Following these statistics, InQuire asked the University the following questions:
“How does the University feel regarding its handling of crime on the University campus?
“Why were there such high figures for emergency services call outs in 2011/12?
“The call out figures for the police and fire brigade has steadily declined over the last five academic years, but the call out figures for ambulances have remained consistently high. Why does the University believe this is, and what efforts are the University making, if any, to reduce this ambulance figure?”
The University said they wished to comment after analysing the statistics and their implications. Despite this, the University has chosen not to respond in the two months since this article was first published on 3 June in issue 12.2 of InQuire.
Recently the University has worked to increase its security provision for students with the introduction of the SafeZone app, which is available at www.kent.ac.uk/safezone.
On 17 November 2015, prior to the app’s release, InQuire spoke with Rory Murray, Kent Union Vice-President (Welfare) and Union President (elect) about SafeZone.
He said that the app was brought in following the University’s safety campaign, which itself was in response to students and their views on the University’s reception to safety.
Talking about the SafeZone app, Murray said that “from a University perspective they are doing more than they have done before, so I think that’s a positive step forward”. InQuire further questioned Murray about the University’s Stay Safe campaign and its ability to encourage students to think more about their safety.
“I think it’s a really positive thing that the University are listening to feedback. The feedback from students last year was that they didn’t think any safety matters were communicated, and that they didn’t really know what Campus Security was. I think it’s a really positive step forward and that actually, the University are communicating those safety messages.”
Murray continued to express a desire for a Canterbury wide approach to safety, involving a partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University and Christ Church Students’ Union.
He described SafeZone as “a new way for calling for help” and contacting Campus Security. “I think if you’re walking across campus and you think someone is following you, it’s a much more subtle way of calling for assistance, so that should be a really positive move.”
Campus Security are available 24/7, 365 days of the year. They can be contacted on
in the case of an emergency, or on for enquiries. Campus Security have also offered a Walking Taxi Service for students to get home safely since 2000.
The Canterbury Street Marshall scheme was also introduced in September 2015 for a trial period of an academic year. It was formed in collaboration with UKC, CCCU, both students’ unions, Kent Police, and CCC.
The scheme was in designed to safeguard students and local residents at night and increase positive community relations.