Edinburgh University is top of the class for crime

AS university league tables go, this is one Edinburgh will not be celebrating topping.

New figures show that more thefts and break-ins have been reported at the institution than any other in Scotland.

More than 40 break-ins at residential halls have been recorded by Edinburgh University’s security team during the last four years.

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Another 353 thefts of property from campus buildings across the Capital were also reported during the same period.

In comparison, Aberdeen University suffered 18 break-ins while Strathclyde University reported 218 campus thefts.

Meanwhile, five cases of wilful fire-raising at Edinburgh University accommodation were committed. Five cases of breach of the peace took place on university sites.

University chiefs said that they took security issues “very seriously”, and pointed out that the institution had 300 buildings and 400 accommodation facilities across the Capital.

Student accommodation, such as Pollock Halls, have been targeted by bike thieves in recent years.

Matt McPherson, president of Edinburgh University Students’ Association (Eusa), said: “Students and staff have all been guilty in having a false sense of security when it comes to crime on campus. The buildings are open to any member of the public to just walk in and that can leave us vulnerable to some forms of criminality.

“We have a huge number of buildings in different areas and when you have that expansion, it can also leave you exposed.

“Eusa has taken a very pro-active approach by working with police to ensure that there is a safer neighbourhood team covering the university campus. The university is spread over a large area so any crime was previously investigated by the local safer neighbourhood team.”

Eusa also set up a “walking bus” scheme to chaperone students walking through the Meadows following a spate of sex attacks last year.

In September 2010, university chiefs were granted permission to install three CCTV cameras overlooking George Square after a spate of incidents, including foreign students being repeatedly abused by drunks.

Professor Nigel Brown, senior vice-principal of the university, said: “The university takes issues of security very seriously. It works hard to provide a safe and secure environment in almost 300 teaching and administrative buildings plus another 400 accommodation buildings, for 35,000 people.

“Apart from five cases of breach of the peace, the crimes reported in the past four years relate to damage to or disappearance of property.”

The figures, released following a freedom of information request, included incidents from March 2008 to present.

Robin Parker, president of National Union of Students Scotland, said that the Edinburgh Students Forum was “calling on councillors to work with students and the police to introduce a student safety strategy.”

He added: “Such a scheme would work on ending hate crime against students and calls to address the rising theft rate of items such as a bikes or laptops that are critical to students succeeding in their studies.”

Lecture in lawlessness

OTHER universities in the Lothians have found themselves preyed on by criminals, according to the figures.

Between August 2009 and February this year, three break-ins were recorded by Heriot-Watt along with 40 cases of theft.

At Napier, six attempted break-ins were recorded at halls of residence, but each was foiled. 11 thefts in halls were reported.

Queen Margaret received two reports of alleged rape but neither case led to a prosecution.