Senior representatives from local policing visited the University of Worcester for a discussion with students and staff.
West Mercia Police Chief Constable, Pippa Mills, and West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion, spoke with students and graduates at a round table meeting. It was a chance to talk about issues or raise questions specific to the student community. The pair also met with senior figures at the University, including the Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green, and had a tour of the University’s Student Services hub and the Worcester Students’ Union.
The topics discussed with students included reporting of crimes and ways to contact the police, violence against women and girls, diversity and inclusion in the police force and the night-time economy. Police heard details of a Bystander Intervention programme that the University has been running and its effectiveness. Launched in 2016, this programme has seen several hundred Worcester students trained to recognise problematic behaviour, violence and abuse, and have the confidence to intervene.
The University was part of the South Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership, led by the Police, which was awarded over £500,000 in October last year from the government's Safer Streets Fund. This is for targeted work to reduce violence against women and girls and is being spent on local measures in Worcester and the surrounding region. Alongside practical measures which benefit students and the wider public, like better lighting and CCTV in the City, the money was to help support education to students around safety, education to encourage bystander intervention and taxi marshals.
Chief Constable, Pippa Mills, said: “It was a pleasure to visit the University and have the chance to speak with staff, graduates and students and to hear their views and concerns about crime and policing. I look forward to building a closer relationship with the University and I want to reassure our communities that West Mercia police is working hard to reduce crime across the board, in particular tackling violence against women and girls which is an absolute priority. Students should feel safe wherever they are, at any time of day or night and it is also essential that students have the confidence to report any concerns or incidents to the police and know that appropriate action will be taken.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion, said: “It was a pleasure to sit down with the students and have an open and honest conversation about a number of subjects, as it’s important there is a good relationship between young people and the police.
“I was keen to understand what concerns they had, in order for me to provide reassurance in my role as PCC be it there and then or in future decisions I make. As a result of conversations we had about violence against women and girls, two of the students have gone on to help with a campaign I am running this month to further raise awareness of the subject.”
Dr Tim Jones, Acting Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) at the University, said: “We welcome a close working relationship with the police as we’re always interested in how we can best support students’ welfare. Our students are an important part of the Worcester community and this was a very positive way to engage with the police and give them a greater understanding of what matters to our students. We were also glad to be able to share with police the work we are doing with students encouraging them to challenge problematic behaviour.”
Liam Lees, President of Worcester Students’ Union, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to meet face to face with senior figures in policing and discuss some of the issues that are important to Worcester students and also understand the best ways for students to engage with the force.”