A recent burglary at Tennis Court has prompted a student to create a petition calling for improved security at University managed student accommodation.
The petition calls for the University of Birmingham to introduce a raft of new measures including additional surveillance, restricted access to accommodation, motion-sensing lights and security bars on ground floor windows.
On the night of 26th October four flats in Tennis Court at the Vale Village were broken into by a number of thieves who stole several valuables including laptops and smartphones. Students in other areas of the affected flats were unaware of the break in as the burglars forced their way into empty bedrooms through ground floor windows. The incident drove Sara Otung, a resident of Tennis Courts, to draft the petition, which at time of print had been signed by almost 350 students.
Sara, a first year Medicine student, said in an interview with Redbrick that it wasn’t until after the burglary that she realised how vulnerable her accommodation was.
What spurred me on to make the petition was fear. I was scared. It’s really scary to think that robbers can get that close to your room. We have a gate at the front of Centre Court which is constantly left open and around the back is a torn down fence leaving clear access from the main road. Students pay thousands of pounds every year for accommodation and part of that should go towards keeping them safe.
A few students were able to recover some of their property after using GPS tracking to lead them to the location of the thieves’ nearby stash. The police have since recovered more of the stolen property and are continuing with their investigations.
Stuart Richards, Director of Hospitality and Accommodation Services, told Redbrick he found the break in ‘shocking’ given that the Vale Village has experienced extremely low levels of such crime over the last few years.
In response to the concerns that have been raised we initially e-mailed all residents last Friday detailing action we have taken and plan to take to provide assurance to residents that we take their concerns seriously. [CCTV] footage of the incidents has been handed over to the Police as part of their investigation
Students from Tennis Courts have been in contact with staff from accommodation management and a meeting between staff and students has been arranged to discuss the level of security at Tennis Courts. There are also plans to install bespoke brackets on the inside of all ground floor windows to help prevent a similar incident from occurring.
The petition is online at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/safe-student-halls-in-university-of-birmingham.
James Robertson, Guild Vice-President for Housing and Community, said:
The Guild is dedicated to ensuring the safety of our students, and has been working closely with the Vale Site Management to ensure this incident is investigated thoroughly and issues are dealt with.