Student security risks exposed

May 3, 2021

first_imgA Cherwell survey has revealed that students are compromising college security by failing to take precautions against break-ins and thefts. The results coincide with a recent burglary at St John’s College where a thief entered the grounds and gained access to students’ rooms. A man reportedly entered four or five students’ rooms, and stole a laptop and other items. 150 students took part in the survey, 59% of whom said they had loaned their access card or key to another student, and 11% of whom said they had loaned them to someone who wasn’t a student. Over half of students said they had let someone into college they didn’t recognise and only 5% claimed always to ask a person’s name if they don’t know who they are. Some 37% of students said they have lost their access card or key one or more times, and 31% that they wouldn’t report such a loss to the college immediately. A number of JCR Presidents were concerned about college security upon hearing the statistics. Dani Quinn, of Merton, said, “One area of concern for many of us is that we receive no warning when workmen (e.g. electricians) are going to be knocking on our doors to do checks. It’s embarrassing to ask for ID, and students often feel quite vulnerable when they have unidentified strangers in their rooms.” St Peter’s College has taken steps recently to reduce the chances of college security being jeopardised by students’ carelessness. Joel Mullan, JCR President commented, “The main college site is quite well protected. In the last year, college have taken difficult, unpopular, but necessary decisions to enhance security – such as locking both of the peripheral gates overnight. Other things like the recent successful request for overnight closure of Bulwarks Lane will undoubtedly also improve things. “Security at the annexes is more questionable – a few weeks ago there was an attempted burglary – but we’ll be working with college in the next few months and suggesting improvements which can be made,” he added. In response to the survey, one third year at Worcester College said, “I leave my door open all the time. Sometimes we see guys wandering about our flat but we assume they’re there for maintenance.” Caroline Thomas, Home Bursar of New College, commented, “I doubt that any Home Bursar or Head Porter would be surprised by these statistics. As part of the Freshers’ Week induction, New College makes it clear that most thefts occur from rooms that have been left unlocked or because students have allowed unknown people to follow them into a building or staircase. In other words, students are warned of the risks from day one.” The Domestic Bursar of University College, Elizabeth Crawford said, “The College is constantly trying to raise awareness on these issues (via e mail, electronic notices and verbal advice through the JCR). We are acutely conscious that our buildings and community are only as safe as College members allow them to be. But it is also important to get the balance right and not make students feel that they are living in a locked down and heavily regulated environment.” “We have also taken out insurance against losses with Endsleigh for students who live in college accommodation, and the terms of this insurance take full account of students’ apparently relaxed approach to security. Thames Valley Police always start from the assumption that any security measures put in place are actually used,” she said. Students have also been warned by Thames Valley Police in recent weeks to beware of burglars who follow students home and gain unauthorised access to colleges and student housing. Ian Ashpole, a student who had something stolen during the St John’s burglary said, “He got into my room because I left my door unlocked – that’s how he got into anyone’s room. I’ve been locking my door since then, though”. A message to members of the JCR following the incident said, “Make sure that if you leave your room you lock your door, especially if you have valuable items in your room such as phones, laptops etc. Even if you are leaving for a minute or two this is ample time for a professional thief to operate. Also please try to ensure that the doors at the bottom of staircases are kept shut where possible, if they are left wide open then they provide no security whatsoever.”last_img

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