Education & Family

Crime rates compared in university league table

Crime scene police tape
Image caption One in three students are victims of crime - but universities do not have to keep figures

London institutions have taken the 18 highest places in a league table of robbery and assaults around universities in England and Wales.

The study used police figures to measure crime rates in a three-mile radius around campuses.

The area around London Metropolitan has the highest crime rate and Buckingham the lowest.

The study's authors say the information will help potential applicants "assess the risks of individual institutions".

The rankings from the Complete University Guide provide the most detailed breakdown so far of robbery, burglary and violent crime around universities.

Consumer information

The highest crime levels are in inner London - London Metropolitan, King's College London and London South Bank.

Outside of the capital, Manchester Metropolitan, Leeds and Manchester have the highest crime rates. Buckingham, Aberystwyth and Durham have the lowest.

For robbery, the highest rates outside London are concentrated around Birmingham - in Birmingham City, Aston and Birmingham.

Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan have the highest levels of burglary.

The top 10 highest figures for violent crime are in London - headed by London Metropolitan - with Glyndwr in Wrexham and Portsmouth the highest outside London.

With tuition fees rising to up to £9,000 per year, there are expectations that students should have more consumer information about where they are going to spend so much time and money.

While university websites will present the most attractive features of a location, this league table of crime rates sets out the downsides of student life, such as muggings and burglary.

About one in three students become victims of crime, says the study, but there is no official record of where such crimes on students occur.

Universities are not obliged to provide crime statistics involving their students - or to publish details of crimes on or around their premises.

Study author Bernard Kingston says this is the type of information that students and their parents might want to know before making decisions about where to apply.

Previous crimes

In contrast, in the United States universities are obliged to provide detailed crime figures - so that families can check any particular safety concerns.

This requirement followed the murder of a teenage student at a university in Pennsylvania in 1986 - and the subsequent discovery by her parents that there had been 38 other violent crimes on the campus in the previous years.

US universities now provide figures showing crimes - including murder, sex offences, robbery, assault and motor theft - on campus and in student housing.

Mr Kingston says that for universities in the UK, "there are no precise data for the impact of crime on students".

"Any responsibility for collecting and disclosing such information reverts to the universities, and the extent to which that responsibility is acknowledged is murky, to say the least," he says.

These latest crime rankings provide more detail than earlier tables, but they do not have data for crime taking place on campus.

'Difficult to define'

The comparisons are based on crimes per 1,000 residents, taking place within three miles of the main campus - and include both student and non-student victims.

The high levels for universities in inner London also do not reflect that student accommodation might be located away from the main building.

A statement from London Metropolitan said the university had three hubs - and the crime figures measured in this study only represented the area around one of these hubs.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said that detailed postcode information on crime was already publicly available - and that it was difficult to define a separate category of "student-relevant crime".

"Universities are often large communities, with the majority of students living off-campus and closely integrated with their local communities," she said.

"More and more information about what students can expect from their time at university is now being published. It is important that such information is as clear and as accessible as possible."

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