What to do if you're a victim of crime as a student

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Sadly, you can be a victim of crime anywhere. I know I have been – I’ve had everything ranging from having my phone stolen – which is awful in itself – to more serious incidents in my lifetime. Whilst you’re a student, every effort is made to keep you safe, but unfortunately, sometimes bad things can (and do) happen.

If a crime happens on your doorstep, it can be scary. If you’re away from home and living in student accommodation, it can make things daunting. When you’re in unfamiliar territory and things are going well, it’s exciting. When things start to go bad, you can feel scared and alone.

As the summer gets into full swing, some people may be staying in their Uni city for the summer months, too. Others may be home, or trying out a new city entirely. If you're out and about, remember that town centres are often busier thanks to the school holidays and increased tourism. This could mean that people are at more risk of being mugged, for example, as crowds are often a great place for thieves to pick their innocent targets.

However, as the summer usually means a lot of students aren’t going to be home (whether that’s at their family home due to holidays, or their student house or accommodation due to going back to their hometown), this can sometimes mean that thieves will hone in on robbing the places where they live, too.

There are ways that you can try and protect yourself from being robbed. Liberty Living has security measures in place to keep you safe, but sadly, thieves don’t often wear shirts advertising their intentions, so they might find crafty ways to get in. Keeping your door locked, challenging people you don’t recognise, and stopping people from “tailgating” can really stop bad things from happening! I know… it’s kind of unrealistic in student accommodation at times. But remember, if someone’s got a genuine reason to be in the building, they’ll probably just be thankful you’re being vigilant. You can report anything suspicious you see to the Residence Teams, especially if you’re nervous about offending someone directly.

We all have valuables, which is why Liberty Living partners with Endsleigh insurance, which is to provide security should you become a victim of crime. They are a really good company, which is why we trust them with contents insurance, included in your rent. You should read about what they do and don’t cover here, to avoid any misunderstandings, and take out additional cover if you need it for any special or extra requirements. Claiming if you need to is easy, just follow the link above. It’s important to note that insurance fraud is a crime though, and they have certain requirements they expect you to have followed before making a claim – so don’t get too complacent!

Of course, not every crime will take place at your student housing, and in fact, we like to think that this is the least likely scenario! So when you’re out and about, stay vigilant at all times. Get your stuff insured (I can’t even begin to tell you how much phone insurance has saved my life).

No matter whether you’re the victim of a crime, remember: it’s not your fault. Don’t be afraid of judgement, and call the police or relevant emergency services immediately. They are there to help you. If necessary, they can even give you further support – I was unfortunately the victim of an armed gang attack in 2015, and their telephone support worker was an absolute blessing. Other organisations can help you if you’re afraid about a matter that might need to go to court, for example.

I appreciate that some crimes – for example, rape – are more difficult to talk about. You do not have to report this, but you can go to the hospital to give evidence or get help, which can then be used in future if you change your mind. They can help with emotional support in the aftermath, assigning you a support worker or giving you phone numbers to ring. I used to volunteer on one of those lines, and nobody will blame or judge you.

If something does go wrong, remember that you have a support network around you, always. From your University to the Residence Teams here at Liberty Living, you are not alone. It is their job to listen to you, and ensure you have what you need to either seek justice or recover. Flatmates can also be great to lean on, but if all else fails, you can always pop on the phone to family and friends. Stay safe!