London universities have the worst areas for student-relevant crime from across England and Wales, says survey

Principal author of survey urges universities to 'tell prospective students what their chances of falling victim to crime are, on and off campus'

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The Independent Online

Prominent university neighbourhoods in London have some of the highest student-relevant crime rates in the country – yet it is a matter of regret that universities do not seem to regard it as of significance, according to a university ranking site.

The Complete University Guide said it compiled official police data by listing the rates for almost 130 universities and their immediate areas from across England and Wales, compared the factors of burglary, robbery, and violence and sexual offences figures.

Results showed how the area around King’s College London took the top spot for overall crime with a rate of 47.65 incidents per 1,000 population.

Courtauld Institute of Art (47.28), and University College of London (47.07), made up the top three in the capital, followed closely by Birkbeck (46.95) in Central London.

Outside of the city, however, three Manchester institutions – the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Royal Northern College of Music, together with the University of Salford – had the highest crime rates within their areas, with an average rate of 39.43 incidents per 1,000.

Principal author of The Complete University Guide, Dr Bernard Kingston, said the survey recognised how the concentration of crime hot spots within the three mile radius makes comparisons between the inner London universities and the rest of the country problematic.

However, he added it remained inescapable that these are the streets though which these universities’ students all travel, and where many of them live, warning students to be alert when making their decision on their study destination.

He said: “Most universities, especially those in high crime areas, actively advise students on precautions they should take to avoid becoming the victims of crime.

“But they only monitor crime on their own campuses and many students – especially international students attracted by the strong academic reputations of the UK's universities – are often unaware of the level of crime in the areas around their chosen institutions.

“Regrettably, universities are either unable or unwilling to disclose the rates of crime directly affecting their students on campus let alone off campus.”

While the information is not forthcoming, Dr Kingston described it as “a matter of regret that universities do not seem to regard it as of significance,” and said the survey should act as the best available guide for universities.

Calling on staff to play their part, he said: “We urge vice-chancellors and the universities to tell prospective students what their chances of falling victim to crime are, on and off campus.”

A King’s College spokesperson, however, refuted the survey’s results by saying it uses police data of crimes reported by all residents, not just students, living within three miles of each university.

The spokesperson added: “London faces similar challenges to many other major cities in dealing with crime. We regularly communicate the importance of personal safety to students, through our welcome and orientation sessions which include student safety advice from the Metropolitan Police, through leaflets and our website.”

Adding how serious incidents involving students are “an exception,” the university said it also has strong security measures in place across all its campuses.

View the complete list of the best and worst universities and colleges for student-relevant crime here.