How Safe is Southampton?

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A pensioner is killed in Broadlands Road. A teenager is stabbed down Church Road. A student is assaulted in Gordon Avenue. And now Tennyson Road has been the site of an assault.

We have all heard these stories – no doubt many more besides – and had the email from the university, but do the stories worry us?How safe is Southampton really? Is it a crime capital, or just an average city?

Growing up in a town about a quarter of the size of Southampton, I have to admit that I was a little daunted on arrival, especially after hearing reports of a girl being attacked along Lover’s Lane after only two weeks into my course.

Violent attacks on students, men and women are a weekly occurrence, the statistics showing a higher than normal crime rate for the city, with 31.6 in 1000 people having reported having violence committed against them, compared to the national average of 14.8 in 1000 people. Sexual assaults are higher than average by 0.8 and the amount of criminal damage that is reported is almost double.

Worrying indeed. Yet when compared to other cities, things start to look much better. Nottingham, nicknamed ‘Shottingham’ by many, has a considerably higher crime rate than Southampton, as do many other student towns including Liverpool and Manchester, suggesting that perhaps Southampton isn’t the most dangerous place to live in after all.

One Southampton resident commented:

‘Southampton’s really not any worse than any other city in the UK. Everywhere has antisocial youths these days.’

The large number of council estates, especially those in Totton and Thornhill, are also blamed for the high crime rate. Although this rather stereotypical view can never be conclusively proven, there are certainly areas of Southampton that everyone would be wise to avoid at night, especially Lover’s Lane, The Common, the Flowers Estate along Portswood Road and other unlit paths that cut through the various housing areas.

Post graduate student, Alex Purdue, told The Wessex Scene:

‘There has always been a lot of crime in Southampton so the recent attacks don’t overly worry me. But you do hear quite a lot of stories about the Flowers Estate, and loads of the shops along Burgess Road have security outside, like the Co-op.’

Students are often accused for the criminal damage in the area, with residents blaming drunken individuals for ruining property and in some cases for damage to cars, scratching paintwork and destroying wing-mirrors.

However, following the high profile case of a student urinating on a war memorial during a Carnage crawl in Southampton, this ill-feeling may have been exacerbated, with students being unfairly stereotyped.

Lisa Kilpi, an ex-student, said on the subject:

‘Sure there’s probably more vomit on the streets on Saturday mornings than if there weren’t students in the area, but it’s not very realistic to blame an entire group of thousands of students for the actions of a few idiots.’

Burglaries are another troubling issue in Southampton, especially in Portswood, where the large student population makes it an ideal target during university holidays. One resident, who did not wish to be named, told us about the time she had her house burgled, and about five others who have also had their houses targeted. Her car has also been damaged, both outside her house and in a car park. Despite reporting this to the Police, it is unlikely that the culprit will be found.

In the case of violent attacks, Police responses have been more promising. In light of notable assaults towards the end of 2010, when two young women were stabbed in separate attacks on Gordon Avenue and along Lover’s Walk, Police patrols were stepped up and better street lighting implemented.

Attempts to reassure people seem to be working, with life continuing in the city as normal. The Police suggest that everyone takes the proper precautions when walking around the town, especially at night, and to ensure that they keep personal possessions out of sight.

Overall, although Southampton may have a slightly higher than average crime rate, if the correct safety precautions are adhered to, there is no reason for it to be seen as any worse
than any other city.

For up-to-date crime statistics and crime maps, visit http://www.police.uk/

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Discussion3 Comments

  1. avatar

    A very well written article on a topical issue. Nice job.

    However I believe that the media has always been responsible for exacerbating by focussing too much on single crimes. Attacks in particularly student-y areas are not rare for any city, as you mention, it only starts to concern you when it’s local.

    So long as you go buy the basic rules of, a) get a taxi home when alone, b) don’t go walking in unlit exposed places, c) you stay wary of crime and are prepared, i.e. carrying rape alarms about – then you should be fine, particularly women.

    Personally what worries me more is the high rates of theft I have begun to notice. More and more do I hear stories of student homes being broken into and valuables going missing. Even my bike got stolen last year from outside of Gateley halls whilst securely locked up.

    But again I stress that this isn’t an issue particular to Southampton. So long as people are aware of the crime that’s out there, you should be able to avoid it.

  2. avatar

    Well written article which is highlighting a very important issue. Actually I disagree with Moggy that some crimes in Southampton are exacerbated by the media. Personally I think, NO crime can be exacerbated coverage-wise as if its not gruesome enough to receive so much precious space on a piece of paper.

    A few comments to the author. Comparing Nottingham, Liverpool and Manchester with Southampton was absolutely wrong (!!!) these towns have larger population, much bigger Unis (ETC ETC) so obviously they have bigger crime rates!

    The unsettling thing about Southampton is the ‘concentration’ of crime in a such a small town. I cannot remember Bedford place not hosting a fight during night time or how many times you hear stories about an assault here and a burglary there. Oh, and what about the city centre parks turning into some sort of a ‘Rapeland’ at night?!! The very thought of me going for a walk there during day time makes me efing sick… Just sitting on a bench next to a place where somebody got raped ( I know I know you can think of many other bad places/stories happening in the world)

    And finally these are JUST another Southampton ‘stories’ you hear on the news or from friends, more like a bad fairytale and I think that is the worst thing. But you know, you have to keep calm and carry on, right?

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