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/