Safety in London

This page provides some tips on safety in London and around campus, so that you can make the most of your student experience.

Crime Prevention and Personal Safety Adviser appointments

UCL's Crime Prevention and Personal Safety Adviser, Sophie Bimson, offers phone appointments every Wednesday afternoon. Appointments last up to 45 minutes. Three slots are available: 2pm-2.45pm, 2.45pm-3.30pm and 3.30pm-4.15pm.

You can speak to Sophie about any issues affecting you that are related to crime, safety or security. This might include theft, assault, harassment or domestic abuse. Sophie can also provide guidance on how to avoid crime and can support you if you're reporting a crime to the police.

If you'd like to book a phone appointment with Sophie, please email her directly with your preferred time slot.

Find out more about personal safety at UCL.

The UK is a safe country, with generally low crime rates and a trustworthy police service.

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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. Below are some tips 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 crowded 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.

Withdrawing cash

Do not keep all your valuables in one place and do not carry large amounts of cash around with you.

If you're an international student and need funds for your arrival, you may instead 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.

Read more information on pre-paid cards on the Money Advice Service webpages.

When withdrawing cash from an ATM, cover the keyboard to make sure that others do not see your PIN. If possible, try to use cash machines during the daytime.

Read more advice on ATM security on the Metropolitan Police website.

Register your pocket electronics (phone, iPad etc.) for free on the Immobilise 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.

To register your valuables, visit the Immobilise website.

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 have created a video on what to do in the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack. The video below explains the 'Run, Hide, Tell' strategy.

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Overall, be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. 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.

Find out more about mental health and wellbeing support. 

    Staying safe on or around campus

    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 calling +44 (​​​​​​0)20 7679 2108 (extension 32108 from a UCL landline) for a non-emergency or +44 (0)20 7679 2222 (extension 222) for an emergency.

    For more information on staying safe at UCL, visit the UCL Security website.


    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.

    Phone snatchers

    A crime which has recently seen an increase in the Bloomsbury area and in London in general is phone snatching by individuals on mopeds and bikes.

    The police have done a lot of work to tackle offenders on mopeds and as a result reported incidents have dropped. However, this does still occur and there have also been a few incidents of offenders on bikes.

    To avoid being a victim of 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. 

    Read more about protecting your phone against theft on the Metropolitan Police website.

    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 opportunistic thief.

    Bike security

    When parking your bike on the street, it is generally best to use cycle parking stands. Avoid using street furniture, as your bike may then be removed by local authorities. 

    When parking your bicycle on UCL property, please ensure that you do not attach your bike to 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 by calling +44 (​​​​​​0)20 7679 2108 (extension 32108 from a UCL landline) for a non-emergency.

    Read more about bike security on the UCL Security website. 

    Criminal offences

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