The Guild’s clichéd advice to ‘remain vigilant’ is vague and patronising

More practical solutions need to be put in place to stop crime

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In wake of the recent and frequent attacks in Selly Oak, The Guild of Students recently released a second statement about student safety. Housing and Community Officer Roberto Sorrentino urged students to “remain vigilant” as crime continues to terrorise the student area. His advice, which included “walk in numbers” and “get a taxi”, is sound. But is vague encouragement to “remain vigilant” really the most practical or effective advice the uni can offer?

Sorrentino and the university have a tough job, and there’s no doubt keeping students safe is their top priority. But wish-washy statements like the one the Guild released today hardly inspire confidence and, if anything, shifts the responsibility onto the students themselves.

The bottom line is students should be able to feel safe walking back from Uni or to a friend’s house whatever time of day it is. But how can this be achieved when the crime rate in Selly Oak is still so high, with attacks happening on a weekly basis?

The safe haven that is Selly Oak

Selly Oak students are shaken by the crime wave

Sorrentino wrote on his Facebook page that “police are upping patrols in the area for the foreseeable future”, but this promise has often been made when a rise in crime in Selly Oak is brought to the Guild’s attention. One student in particular took exception to Sorrentino’s post, stating much more needed to be done by the West Midlands Police to keep students safe in Selly.

A heightened police presence may deter certain criminals, but the police can’t be everywhere all of the time. The same student said that the Guild’s “safety tips are not going to prevent anyone from getting mugged, unless they offer tips on how to fight off a group of masked muggers”. Self-defence classes might seen outlandish, but they could be one solution to practically help Selly Oak resident’s if they came under attack. The best defence is a good offence, and if you’re being attacked on a side street on Dawlish, you can’t always wait for the police to come and rescue you.

Handing out attack alarms could also be invaluable all year round – rather than just at the Freshers’ Fair. Throughout my four years at Uni I’ve never been able to get my hands on one of these highly coveted little life savers free from the police or the Guild. The deafening sound could deter a mugger during an attempted attack or alert others in the houses around you that you’re in danger, prompting a witness to call the police.

While it’s not solely down to the Guild to keep students safe, any of these things would help properly tackle the crime wave that has left so many student scared to walk home at night. The Guild’s recent presence on the streets the other night is a welcome start and Sorrentino and the university’s efforts are always appreciated. But really it’s time to consistently start producing effective and practical actions to back up their words.

Anyone with further information regarding the recent attacks is urged to contact the police by calling 101, or 999 if witnessing an incident and it is safe to do so.