Personal Safety

 

Although Bristol is generally a safe city, every year a number of University of Bristol students are victims of crime. It is worth taking some basic steps to avoid making yourself a potential target – this applies as much to young men as it does to women.  Statistics show that young men are the most likely group to be victims of crime.

 

Drink Spiking

 

“Spiking” means putting a substance in a person’s drink with the intention of incapacitating them (often to take advantage of the effect that substance has on them). The substances are usually clear, odourless and tasteless, and may be in the form of liquids, tablets or powders.

 

Reactions to drink spiking vary from individual to individual, and also depend on the substance used and the dosage given. The NHS has a pretty comprehensive list of symptoms here, but some common effects are:

  • feeling intoxicated or drowsy
  • having difficulty speaking or concentrating
  • nausea
  • falling unconscious
  • feeling out of control, paranoid or scared.

If you or a friend feel any of these effects, or otherwise suspect that your drink might have been spiked:

  • tell a friend you trust 
  • if you’re in a pub or club, ask your friend to tell the manager
  • call 999
  • if you still have the drink, keep hold of it so that if you go to hospital and/or the police, they can test it.

Although still relatively rare, incidences of drink-spiking are increasing. But there are some basic things you can do to avoid your drink being spiked:

  • know your tolerance levels for alcohol – if your drink has been spiked, you are likely to react in a different way to normal
  • think carefully before accepting a drink
  • don’t leave your drinks unattended
  • try to make sure that you open cans or bottles yourself
  • remember that men get their drinks spiked as well as women – 11% of victims are men
  • if there’s ANYTHING strange about your drink, throw it away
  • don’t assume that you’ll be safe if you stick to soft drinks – the drugs used to spike drinks work in soft drinks as well as in alcohol.

If you believe you have been the victim of crime (and remember that drink spiking itself is a crime!), we recommend that you report it to the police.

 

Getting Around Safely

 

Mostly staying safe is about common sense, but there are some things to bear in mind when getting around our fair city...

 

Walking

  • always try to walk with a friend, particularly at night
  • where possible, stick to well-lit and busy routes
  • if you’re walking home on your own, tell someone what time you expect to be back
  • be aware of your surroundings: iPods and phones reduce your perception of what’s going on around you
  • keep your personal belongings inconspicuous, such as carrying your laptop in a sports bag or rucksack
  • keep your keys in your pocket in case your bag is stolen
  • walk facing traffic, so no-one can pull up behind you in a car

Taxis

  • UBU has a deal with V Cars, for students who need a taxi but have no cash. All you have to do is leave your student card with the driver and they will take you home – you collect your student card from their office later and pay the fare then. You can call them on 0117 925 2626
  • Remember that only hackney cabs (which are painted blue, and display council licence plates with a white background) are allowed to pick up passengers when flagged down
  • Private hire cars (which display council licence plates with a yellow background) aren’t allowed to pick up passengers when they’re flagged down – be wary of any vehicles which do this
  • If you have a bad experience in a taxi, you can complain to Bristol City Council here. Try to collect as much evidence as possible, such as the vehicle plate number and the driver badge number

Generally

  • Don’t be afraid to ring 999 if you feel you are being followed
  • The University’s Security Services control room can be reached on 87848 and a 24-hour emergency contact number can be found on the back of your student card
  • Consider carrying a personal alarm – you (men and women) can get one from the Just Ask advisers
  • In halls, or any other University property, be careful who follows you into the building. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone for their University ID, and if they refuse – call Security

At Home

 

Lock It!

  • A third of all burglaries happen because a door or window has been left open. If you're in a private home or flat, lock up whenever you go out - with deadbolts if you have them
  • Ask your landlord to fit deadlocks to all outside doors - burglars hate them because you need a key to open them from the inside as well as the outside. And ask them to put key operated locks on all downstairs or accessible windows - burglars don't like having to smash windows because of the noise and the danger of cutting themselves
  • Lock up goods in your garden - including ladders, tools and bikes - not only are these are at risk from being stolen, but burglars can also use them to break in

Protect It!

  • Try to make sure your and your housemates' laptops and other valuables can't be seen from your window. Also, don't leave empty boxes of new purchases outside for burglars to see
  • Marking your property helps to deter burglars and can help the police to catch them. Mark your property with the initials of your university and your student ID number

 

If You Are Attacked

 

The crime section of our website has more general information on what to do if you are the victim of a crime .

 

Please remember that sexual assault (or any other crime) is never the victim’s fault, and your behaviour, drug or alcohol intake is no excuse.

 

Survivors of personal attack or abuse can experience short-term effects such as nightmares, flash-backs, sleep problems, anxiety and changes in behaviour. Emotional responses vary from person to person: there is no such thing as a “normal” response to being attacked.

 

If you have been attacked or abused, please remember that you are not alone: there are many ways to deal with your situation and many people who can help:

  • a Just Ask adviser can give you confidential and impartial advice – we won’t try to influence your decisions, just offer our support
  • the University’s Counselling Service offers a range of free and confidential ways to support students through tough times
  • the Student Health Service offer pregnancy and sexual health testing
  • the University’s Multifaith Chaplaincy offers confidential personal support

 

You may also find the following links useful: