Staying safe

This page provides some tips on safety in London and on avoiding scams or frauds, so that you can ensure you stay safe and make the most of your student experience.

This webpage provides some advice on safety, including the following:

Advice on staying safe around London

The London Metropolitan Police Service, also known as the Met, do an excellent job keeping London among the safest large cities in the world. Still, it’s up to us all to ensure we’re safe from petty crime and that we are obeying the laws of the United Kingdom. The Met was kind enough to provide some tips for newcomers to England.

  • In London, thieves frequently operate at tube stations, at cash machines, in car parks, around bus stations and in overcrowded areas, especially in rush hour. 
  • Don't keep all your valuables in one place and don't 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 you are out and about, don't 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.
  • When withdrawing cash, don't let others see your PIN number.
  • Don't be distracted by your surroundings and be aware that criminals may try to divert your attention.
  • Register your pocket electronics (phone, iPod, iPad) FOR FREE on immobilise.com. Then, 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.

Scams and frauds

  • Some criminals may target you online or over the phone, for example by telephoning you and pretending to be from a legitimate organisation (such as the UK Home Office, an education agent and so forth).
  • They demand money and claim that if you do not pay them quickly, there will be damaging consequences.
  • The caller may appear to be genuine and convincing, either because they have some limited information about you (for example, your passport number, as well as your telephone number and name) or because they appear to be calling from a legitimate phone number.
  • If you receive such a call or a similar contact, don't give the caller any personal information and do not confirm that any information they have is correct.
  • REMEMBER: You should never give out your personal details to a caller as you cannot verify their identity.
  • If you do receive any such contact, please report this to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website.

Money mules

  • Some scams may lead you to unknowingly become a money mule, which is someone who transfers stolen money between different countries.
  • According to Action Fraud, money mules are recruited by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money between different bank accounts. Money mules receive stolen funds into their account, and are then asked to withdraw and wire the money to a different account (often overseas), keeping some of the money for themselves.
  • Even if you’re unaware that the money you’re transferring was illegally obtained, you can still be prosecuted for money laundering. 
  • Behaviours that put you at risk of becoming a money mule include responding to job adverts or social media posts that promise large amounts of money for very little work, and allowing an employer or someone you don’t know to use your bank account to transfer money.
  • REMEMBER: You should never give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust.

The video below, issued by the London Metropolitan Police, provides more information about money mules. 

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Criminal offences

  • 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, e.g. cannabis.
  • Unlike some other European countries, it is illegal to carry CS or pepper spray (Mace) in the UK.

Further resources for students

For more safety tips and articles, including articles about staying safe on nights out, online and on public transport, please visit the following webpage on safety.

If you have any crime or personal safety concerns contact Aysev Ismail, UCL Crime Prevention and Personal Safety Advisor - aysev.ismail@ucl.ac.uk.

Further information on frauds and scams can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website and on the Met Police website. The British Council's Safety First guide (pdf) will also give you helpful advice on how to look after your personal safety.

For more information about the most common types of fraud please see the Little Guide Animations playlist by the Metropolitan Police Service FALCON (Fraud and Linked Crime Online). 

Emergency contacts

UCL Security Services: 

  • Emergency security support: 020 7679 2222 or extension 222 from a UCL landline
  • Non-emergency security support: ​​​​​​020 7679 2108 or extension 32108 from a UCL landline

You can also visit the UCL Security website or follow the team on Twitter @UCLSecurity for updates, news and advice.

Off-campus emergency services: 999 - ask for the appropriate service

Police non-emergency number: 101

Reporting a crime

If you are a victim of crime, or to report anything to the police when it is no longer an emergency, dial 101 or visit a police station. In an emergency, always dial 999 straight away.

The nearest police station to the main UCL campus is:

Holborn Police Station
10 Lambs Conduit Street
London WC1N 3NR