Statement: Selly Oak Crime

This weekend a violent crime took place in Selly Oak. West Midlands Police have confirmed that a man was attacked in an attempted car-jacking in the early hours of Sunday morning. The victim is currently in hospital and remains in a critical condition. The Police have since confirmed that three people have been arrested in connection to this incident and we applaud the local police for acting so quickly to bring these individuals to justice. Whilst the person in question was not a University of Birmingham student, we appreciate the impact this will have had on the student community living in the area. Our thoughts, at this time, are with the victim, his friends and family. Selly Oak is known for being a vibrant social hub for University of Birmingham students and we want to ensure it feels safe and welcoming for all those living in, working in and visiting the area.

At the Guild of Students we are aware of students’ apprehension about feeling safe in Selly, particularly in light of recent events. We wanted to ensure students that while there is so much more to be done, we continually work with the University and Police to address issues of crime and safety in areas around the University.

Through our Community Wardens Scheme we work in the community to reinforce messages around student safety, including giving advice on keeping student homes secure, directing students to the safest taxi services and offering advice and guidance on staying safe on a night out in the city.

In collaboration with the Police and University we will also see the launch of two new schemes this term aimed at improving student safety. One will be a Streetwatch Volunteer Scheme: which will introduce volunteers with some police powers, working alongside the Police to patrol the streets of Selly Oak, and providing a visible presence and being on-hand to engage in problems as they arise and support the issues that matter most to our local community.

We are also soon to introduce a new safety bus which will offer a transport service for students studying late at night on campus. This was due to launch later in the term but, in light of recent events, we are looking at ways to bring this launch date forward. We hope that these improvements will go some way towards providing a safer community for students and local residents.

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The reason we are writing to students is to tell you that we know that this alone isn’t good enough. We know more must be done to make you feel safer in your homes in Selly Oak. That is why we’ve written this open letter to address the Vice Chancellor, local councillors, our local MP and West Midlands Metro Mayor in the conversation around student safety. We want the University of Birmingham, like other Universities around the country, to take an active role in the community to ensure the safety of their students. We want the University to take seriously that the crime rate  typically increases in Selly Oak over the autumn and winter months.

We request that the University’s security staff increase efforts to patrol the streets of Selly Oak – this approach has been seen in Universities across the country such as Bristol and Manchester to great effect. We request that the University lobby landlords to make much needed improvements to the security of their houses. We request that the local council works with the University to invest in greater CCTV provision and provide gates between houses in the community.

Please sign our petition if you agree that the University must do more to protect the students living in Selly Oak.

The University, as one of Birmingham’s largest employers, must use its political influence to prioritise the safety of its students and keep this at the top of the agendas of local councillors and MPs. Whilst the police have continually offered wonderful support in times of crisis, due to local and national funding cuts to the police it is clear they are overworked and not able to offer the support that is so badly needed in the area.

Every year there is a call to action but nothing is ever resolved. It’s time for the University and local government to follow through on its promises and ensure that student safety is continually at the forefront of their priorities – and not just something discussed ‘after the event’.  These stakeholders need to take individual and collective responsibility for ensuring the safety of students in Selly Oak.

Sign our petition now.

Your data will be shared with the University, West Midlands Police, Bournbrook Councillors, Selly Oak MP and West Midlands Metro Mayor to let them know that you demand action to make Selly Safer.

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If you have any concerns please do come along to the Student Forum taking place on Wednesday, 6pm in Guild Council Chambers. The Guild cares and knows that student concerns are at the heart of everything we do. Anyone with information relating to this incident is urged to call West Midlands Police on 101. Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

 

 

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