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Student Crime in Leeds – Don’t Become a Victim!

The city of Leeds in West Yorkshire is home to three universities; University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.

Students from these universities live across the city in privately rented student accommodation. According to Crime Statistics England and Wales 2016, the population of Leeds is 752,000 and its student population is 65,000.

Crime, in particular burglary and robbery, is a particular concern for students in Leeds and, according to UK police data from West Yorkshire Police, the city has the third highest burglary rate in the UK. The following stats are crime rates for Leeds per thousand residents: robbery 12.2, burglary 0.9, and violent and sexual crimes 19.8. Leeds total crimes per 1,000 people comes to 32.9 (compiled from data from police.co.uk, Ordnance Survey and Office for National Statistics).

These statistics include a combined rate of crimes that occurred between June 2015 and July 2016. There is no data specifically about crime against students, but the figures above are based on victims in areas popular with students, particularly in Hyde Park and Headingley.

So why is burglary and robbery so prevalent in these areas? It’s thought that what they call “mobile populations” provide easier targets for burglars and above average levels of poor privately rented housing makes homes more vulnerable.

There is a high number of “mobile populations” – students – in Leeds and they make up 8.6% of the city’s population. This is higher than nearby student cities. Hull’s student population is 6.3%, Sheffield’s students make up 4.7% of the population, and it’s even lower in Manchester, which has a 1.4% student population.

Students attract property crime for a few reasons. The combination of high-value goods (laptops, phones, consoles) mixed with a lax attitude are partly to blame, according to Jonny Foster, Community Officer at Leeds University Union.

Jonny says “a student may own gadgets worth more than £2,000, and they live in fairly decrepit houses, with either poor locks or poorly fitted windows.”

In addition to this, students have a more carefree attitude than, for example, a family would. They might not think to double-check they’ve locked the door or just completely forget about security altogether.

“This combination of factors leaves students very susceptible to being burgled, and the burglars know that”, concludes Jonny.

According to West Yorkshire Police, 50% of student burglaries are through windows and doors being left open or unlocked.

A study of private rented accommodation by Leeds University Union found that landlords benefited from higher-than-average rents, but there was little to no evidence that this money was being reinvested in their properties. Crime in student-heavy areas of Hyde Park and Headingley is a particular problem. West Yorkshire Police have stated that while numbers of burglaries have fallen steadily since their peak in the late 90s, this type of crime is more concentrated in pockets of the city.

There is good news, though, and a number of initiatives have popped up around the city to tackle the problem. www.knowledge-leeds.co.uk is leading the way to empower students to tackle crime in their area. They help students become more aware of crime, have a better relationship with the police and educate them on staying safe.

Leeds Safer Home Scheme is a partnership between police, landlords and tenants to manage the risk of burglaries. First, by ensuring that landlords have proper locks and security in properties, and secondly, by ensuring that tenants use the security equipment they have been supplied.

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