Personal safety

Birmingham isn’t just where you study, it’s where you live too. It’s your home during your time with us, and home should always be a place where you feel safe and secure.

To ensure you enjoy every moment of your Birmingham experience, we’ve pulled together some of our top safety tips for when you’re out and about, online, and at home.   

Be aware of your surroundings

If you’re listening to music through headphones, make sure you can still hear what’s happening around you. It’s also good to avoid walking while staring at your phone. This is especially important if you’re walking alone or in the dark.

Don't be afraid to say 'no'

If someone approaches you asking for money while you’re out, you do not have to give them anything. It’s best to politely decline before walking away – or not engage with them at all. If you’re concerned by their behaviour, or they continue to harass you, call the police on 999. 

Use a safety app

For extra peace of mind, use a personal safety app when you’re out, especially if you’re walking alone or at night.  We recommend our SafeZone app. Free and easy to use, it has been designed to give you extra peace of mind when studying and living on campus and in University accommodation. Find out more about the app’s features on our dedicated webpage.

You could also use Hollie Guard, the UK’s largest safety app, when you’re off campus. You can use it to share your location if you’re by yourself, raise an alert if you feel unsafe, and much more. Please note that Hollie Guard only works in the UK. 

Protect your valuables

  • Avoid having expensive branded items on show (e.g., headphones, smart watches). Thieves will not want to steal something they can’t see.
  • If you’re wearing expensive jewellery in a crowded area, such as a train station, we recommend hiding your jewellery under your clothes
  • Do not leave valuables unattended in public places, even if you’re only away from them for a few minutes
  • Take photos of your jewellery, bikes, technology, and other expensive items. This makes it easier to identify and find should they be stolen. We also recommend making a note of the IMEI and serial numbers of your electronics for the same reason.
  • Register your valuables online for free through Immobilise, the UK national property register
  • If you have a car, make sure no personal belongings are visible from outside. It’s best not to keep anything in your car. But, if you must, lock them securely aware in your glove box or boot.

Protect your money

  • Do not carry large sums of money on you. Your money is much safer in a bank account, plus most shops and services are now cashless.
  • Do not dispose of bank statements or anything else containing personal information in normal bins. Shred them instead or cut up any visible personal information before disposal. 
  • Rather than keeping your cash and cards in the same place, store them separately. This way you’ll still have access to funds if your money or cards are lost.
  • Use secure cash machines or ATMs in visible public places, including banks, shops, and hotels. Some more out the way ATMs can be targeted by criminals who tamper with the machine to steal your card and PIN details. If you’re not sure about an ATM, don’t use it.
  • If you’re an international student, we recommend applying for a UK online bank account as soon as you receive your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP card). This means you can make payments in the UK as soon as you arrive, without high exchange rates. Never bring suitcases of money with you.  

Protect your personal data

Social media is great way to connect with the world around you, but nobody wants to share their personal information and photos with complete strangers.

  • Make sure only your friends and family can see your photos, updates, and information by checking your account privacy settings, and only accepting friend/contact requests from people you know.
  • Don’t share any personal information online (e.g., phone number). This includes photographs that could inadvertently tell people your personal details. For example, a photo of you holding the keys to your new house could tell someone where you live.
  • Think twice before you join in on a meme or comment on a post. Classic posts to avoid are ones that get you to share your ‘celebrity name’ by combining your first pet’s name with your mother’s maiden name, for example. These are a clever way to find out possible answers to your bank security answers.

Keep your device secure

Whether you’re checking your bank account, doing some shopping, or replying to emails, there are a few things to look out for to keep you and your device safe:

  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and keep it updated. Make sure to only download software from a reputable or official source. If you’re not sure, get in touch with our IT team.
  • Think before clinking on a link in an email – it could be a phishing scam. Do you know and trust the sender? Were you expecting to receive the email? Does the URL look legit?
  • Use strong passwords (combination of letters, numbers, and characters) and change them regularly. Make sure you have different passwords for different sites too. This helps to limit damage control if one of them is compromised.
  • Only shop from secure websites. These will show a locked padlock or unbroken key in your browser, and its URL will begin with https://
  • Never give your PIN, passwords, or private banking details over the phone or online – your bank will never ask for these
  • Use web cam covers (available from the Community Safety Hub)

Avoid scams

Sometimes criminals target students and try to steal your personal information in sophisticated ways. They may pretend to be the Government, your bank, the University, police (UK or elsewhere), or other trusted organisations. Some international students may also be contacted by people pretending to have information about their visa or BRP.

Don’t worry though, there are lots of tell-tale signs of a scam, plus plenty of support out there if you’re a victim of cybercrime. Find out more and stay scam savvy by visiting our dedicated ‘Advice on avoiding scams’ page.  

Never be afraid to tell someone if you’re a victim of a scam; you will not lose your University place or get into trouble. 

Travel safely

When travelling somewhere new or that you’re unfamiliar with, we recommend setting up a buddy system. Simply nominate a friend or family member as your ‘buddy’ and let them know where you’re going, at what time, and by what route.

This way, they can look out for you if you haven’t arrived at your destination when expected. Remember to let your buddy know when you arrive or if your plans change. 


While it can be tempting to hop into the first cab you see on a night out, ignore anyone who approaches you to offer you a ride – this is illegal. Private-hire taxis, including Uber, can only legally pick you up if you’ve booked, so don’t get into one without that booking confirmation. 

Even when you do book, it’s good to be ‘taxi smart’ by making sure that the car and registration number match the description the company send you. If you’re taking an Uber, we recommend sharing your trip with your trusted contacts. You can set this up via the app.

Public transport

Don’t miss the last bus or train home. Most services stop running after a certain time at night, so plan ahead to ensure you don’t get caught out.

If you have a paper ticket, keep it separate from your phone and wallet. That way, you won’t get your valuables out when you show your ticket, and you’ll still be able to get home if you lose your device or wallet. 

If you feel vulnerable on a bus, we recommend sitting close to the driver. On a train? Avoid empty carriages and don’t forget that you can always move to a different seat or part of the train if you feel uncomfortable.

If you see something that doesn’t look right while travelling, text the British Transport Police on 61016. You can also contact them through their Railway Guardian app.  

Enjoy a night out with confidence

Socialising with friends is a key part of the university experience for many students. No matter if you’re going out or heading to a friend’s flat for the evening, here are a few ways to ensure you have a great time from start to finish:

  • Have a plan for getting home, including if your phone runs out of charge
  • If possible, go out and return home in a group, especially when walking in poorly lit areas
  • Be “drink aware” by knowing the signs of drink spiking (drink spiking test kits are available from the Community Safety Hub) and never leaving your drinks unattended
  • Ask for Angela if you feel unsafe at any time. Many bars, pubs and clubs around the city now offer this service, including on campus; look out for posters in the venue
  • Avoid walking home alone in secluded areas – it’s safer to get a taxi. If you do choose to walk and begin feeling uneasy, call a friend.
  • If you drink alcohol, keep track of your units and alternate your alcoholic drinks with water (trust us, your body will thank you in the morning)
  • Be part of a WhatsApp group with friends so you can communicate your location throughout the evening, just in case you become separated 

While the University does not condone the misuse of alcohol or illegal drugs, we’re here to support you if you think you or a friend might have a problem with either of these things.

Pick up a freebie

From contactless card defenders to personal safety alarms, we can provide you with the items you need to protect yourself from crime. And they’re all completely free of charge. 

Simply drop into any accommodation village reception or the Community Safety Hub to pick up yours. The friendly staff at these locations can also offer you free advice, plus a safe, confidential space to ask any questions or share concerns.

Take the Preferred Walking Route

The Preferred Walking Route is a collaborative initiative by the University, West Midlands Police, and the Calthorpe Estate.

Designed to make walking to and from the city safer, the route encourages you to use a dedicated footpath that goes between The Vale Village and Birmingham city centre.

The footpath benefits from enhanced lighting and CCTV throughout and will be regularly maintained by our teams to keep it clear and accessible. Keep an eye out for the signs that mark out the dedicated route, starting on Church Road at the top of The Vale. 

Attend a personal safety workshop

We offer workshops packed full of practical tips and advice to help you feel safe on campus and beyond. These are free to attend and open to all students.  

Want to know what’s coming up or to organise a group workshop for a team of society you belong to? Get in touch with us at

Keep your student home safe

  • Use door and window alarms, segment times, and other anti-burglary devices. You can pick these up for free at the Guild of Students.
  • Don’t let strangers in, including tradespeople or charity workers. Ask for their official ID or get in touch independently with the organisation they say they’re from to verify their identity.
  • Leave a light on when you’re out of the house at night and make sure you lock your windows and doors, no matter the time of day
  • If you’re renting privately, check that your landlord has a valid Gas Safety Certificate; get a carbon dioxide detector if there’s one already installed; and check your smoke alarm is working regularly. Press the button twice, once to turn it on and again to turn it off.
  • Never cover your smoke alarm or leave cooking unattended. Devise an escape route in case there’s a fire, and make sure to keep it clear.

For more student home safety tips, please visit the Community Wardens’ website

What to do if you are a victim of crime

University of Birmingham is a low-crime campus, and we hope you have a safe and happy time here. If you are a victim of crime, it’s important to report it to Security Services and West Midlands Police. It will ensure you get access to the proper support. It also helps us to keep this community safer for everyone.

To report a non-emergency crime (e.g., theft)

Report it to Security Services on 0121 414 3000. You should also report it to the police: call 101, or report online.

Report a theft or burglary to the police online

To get immediate help in an emergency

Call Security Services on 0121 414 4444, and call police on 999.

Find out more about theft and crime prevention


Professional Services