This page provides some tips on safety in London and around campus, so that you can make the most of your student experience.
The UK is a safe country, with generally low crime rates and a trustworthy police service. To help you make the most of your time at UCL and in London, on this page you will find the following information:
- advice on staying safe around London
- advice on staying safe on or around campus
- criminal offences in the UK
The London Metropolitan Police Service, also known as 'the Met', do an excellent job keeping London among the safest large cities in the world. Below are some tips for newcomers to the UK, to ensure you stay safe from petty crime.
Keep your valuables safe
In London, thieves frequently operate at tube stations, at cash machines, in car parks, around bus stations and in overcrowded areas, especially during rush hour.
When you are out and about, do not leave your bags unattended anywhere in London. As well as attracting pickpockets, you could also create a security alert.
In restaurants, bars or theatres, keep your bags where you can see them, not on the floor or over the back of your chair. In crowded areas, such as a bus or underground train, try wearing them in front of you, not over your shoulder.
Do not be distracted by your surroundings, and be aware that criminals may try to divert your attention.
Do not keep all your valuables in one place and do not carry large amounts of cash around with you. Instead, you may wish to look into obtaining a pre-paid cash card. This allows you to load money on to it and you use it in a similar way to a debit card.
When withdrawing cash from an ATM machine, cover the keyboard to make sure that others do not see your PIN number. If possible, try to use cash machines during the daytime.
Register your pocket electronics (phone, iPod, iPad) for free on the immobilise.com website. This way, when police officers stop and search suspected thieves, they can check the serial number on the immobilise database and track you as the owner so that you can be reunited with your property.
Concerns about terrorism
While the threat of terrorism in the UK is real, terror incidents are few and far between, and with a little knowledge you can increase your safety and help protect yourself against a terrorist attack.
The Police Service has created a video on what to do in the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack; this explains the 'Run, Hide, Tell' strategy:
Overall, be vigilant and aware of your surroundings and if you do see something out of place, for example an item you feel looks suspicious, please do not be afraid to report it to the police.
If you do feel anxious about recent events, remember to keep talking to friends and family, or to seek help from your GP or a mental health professional if you find that you need further help managing your anxiety.
There are a few security issues it is good to be aware of while you are on campus or in the area near UCL.
UCL has security cover 24/7. If you have any questions or concerns you can contact UCL Security, who are located on the ground floor of Foster Court on Malet Place, opposite the Petrie Museum. You can also reach the Security team by dialing 020 7679 2108 (extension 32108 from a UCL landline) for a non-emergency or 020 7679 2222 (extension 222) for an emergency.
Remember to always carry your ID with you at all times and do not give it to anyone else.
Be aware of tailgating. If you feel that a person is following you in order to access an area where you believe they should not be, challenge them - as long as you feel comfortable and safe to do so. Alternatively you can contact UCL Security.
Keep an eye out for 'phone snatchers'
A particular crime which had seen an increase in the Bloomsbury area and in London was phone snatches by individuals on mopeds and bikes. The police did a lot of work to tackle offenders on mopeds and as a result has seen a drop, however there have been a few incidents of offenders on bikes.
To avoid being a victim of a phone theft, always be aware of your surroundings when using your phone. Be vigilant, and look out for bikes and mopeds, especially if they are on the pavement.
Avoid taking your phone out when you leave big transport hubs, and make sure it is on lock so that no one can access it straight away.
Laptop and valuables
Never leave your personal items unattended in public places, including in UCL campus buildings such as libraries and refectories. For example, if you are studying in the library and you need to leave your study space, take your laptop with you or if you are with a friend ask them to keep an eye on your things. Laptops, mobile phones, wallets, bags or any other valuable items may attract an opportunist thief.
When parking on the street it is generally best to use cycle parking stands. Avoid using street furniture as these may be removed by Local Authorities.
When parking your bicycle on UCL property, please ensure that you do not park your bike on railings, pathways or stairways. Please also ensure that you do not park your bike next to or blocking a fire exit. If you do so this may result in your bicycle being removed by UCL Security.
If you find you have any issues with bicycle thefts on campus, please contact the UCL Security team.
To ensure that you are obeying the laws of the United Kingdom, here are a few key points to remember.
- It is a criminal offence to carry weapons in the UK, even if carried for personal protection (this includes knives).
- It is a criminal offence to be in possession of any illegal substance, for example cannabis.
- Unlike some other European countries, it is illegal to carry CS or pepper spray (Mace) in the UK.