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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 05:06 GMT 06:06 UK
Computer game tackles student crime
Students run a high risk of being victims of crime
Students often live in run-down inner city areas
Students are to receive a computer game showing them how to protect themselves and their property against crime.

A new scheme backed by the Home Office, and supported by universities and the National Union of Students (NUS), will look mainly at property crime.

Many people in higher education live in inner city areas where rents are lower and the risk of crime is increased.


People wrongly think (students have) got money and valuable possessions and this makes them a target for criminals

Verity Coyle - National Union of Students

More than 250,000 NUS members will receive the computer game this Christmas as part of the initiative.

The aim of the game is to secure a house and the items in it.

Then a burglar appears, pointing out where the security is poor.

- Verity Coyle, the vice-president for welfare at the NUS said: "Christmas is the time when student houses are most at risk because they are often left empty.

"We advise people to take all valuable items home.

"Burglars soon suss out which houses have students in them and then target them.

'Students vulnerable'

"For many students, going to university is their first time away from home.

"Security matters have usually been dealt with by older members of the family, so we need to make sure that people have the right information to protect themselves.

"First year students are very vulnerable, if it's the first time they've been away from home.

Six burglaries

"There is a lot of resentment towards students because people wrongly think they've got money and valuable possessions and this makes them a target for criminals."

The campaign follows on from the success of schemes in Leeds and Lincoln.

'Unipol' houses in Leeds were targeted for increased security.

In the year following, just six burglaries occurred in a site containing over 2,000 rooms.

Meanwhile, Campuswatch in Lincoln has brought together students, the police and the university.

Worst areas

The problem of finding cheap accommodation is thought to contribute to high crime rates against students.

Ms Coyle said: "Very often it is only the worst areas where students can afford private rented accommodation.

"We are campaigning against the privatisation of halls of residence because this makes matters worse.

Less security

"The halls at Manchester Metropolitan University were privatised and within a year and a half the rents had risen from 32 per week to 72.

"This pushes people towards cheap private housing with less security for themselves and their possessions."

The new campaign is due to begin in November.

See also:

17 Sep 02 | England
01 Mar 02 | Scotland
14 Nov 01 | England
26 Aug 01 | BH
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