Residents question Murano safety

Published

Sarah Smith

Students living at Murano Street Student Village have voiced their concern at the relative lack of information given to them about crimes in the nearby area.

Over the past year, Guardian has reported on a number of incidences involving the student halls, including students mugged at knifepoint during Freshers’ Week and the failure of police to inform Murano residents about an indecent assault, which took place on the footbridge entrance.

Guardian spoke to a number of students who expressed their worry about safety at Murano Street, particularly with regards to the information they are given.

Chris Forster – 19

“I’ve seen quite a few people from Maryhill walk through Murano. It would be good if the police who patrol Maryhill late at night would walk through the student village sometimes.”

Emails are sent to residents with safety advice but many of the students Guardian spoke to felt that the important emails became lost within the numerous other emails sent to them about the halls.

Claire Adams, a first-year English Literature student, told Guardian: “A lot of what you hear is gossip and it would be good to be told some facts because you hear all sorts of horror stories.

“I think they should let you know what is going properly – not just by email.”

A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman told Guardian that the police work with students and offer advice to help them stay safe whilst living in Glasgow.

She said: “We give students at Murano Street Student Village a safety talk during Freshers’ Week and have information on our website about how to stay safe, including how to plan a safe night out.”

Whilst there is a general belief that the University and local police do go some way to ensuring the safety of Murano residents, it is felt that more could be done and that the safety measures currently implemented could be improved upon. One idea for improvement commonly mentioned is for the SRC to expand its minibus service to continue running at later times.

Simone Kupisz – 18

“I walk home by myself at night because I generally like walking. I’d rather walk most of the time, rather than get a taxi, because it doesn’t seem worth paying £3 to get home.”

Currently, the last bus to take students to Murano Street leaves at 10.35pm, which many students feel is too early.

18-year–old Business and Management student, Jodie Davidson, explained the ways in which a later bus service would be of benefit.

She said: “Even if they just went on until midnight it would be better. I know a lot of people who don’t use the library at night because they are put off by the fact that they would have to get a taxi or walk back.”

SRC President, Gavin Lee, explained that the SRC tries to reflect the needs of students in the ongoing development of its minibus service.

He told Guardian: “The SRC minibus service runs until 11pm each weekday, giving students the opportunity to travel home safely from campus during the evenings. Reacting to student demand, the SRC has developed the minibus service to include morning services to Wolfson Hall next year, and hopes to eventually roll this out to all halls.

Emma O’Bryen – 18

“I think the University should look at housing students elsewhere, or improving awareness, because things do happen. A friend was followed home by a guy who was pulling his pants down.”

“We will continue to monitor student demand and look further into this service where appropriate.”

Lee also detailed the other ways through which the SRC currently works to ensure student safety.

He said: “When travelling home late at night, we would recommend students sharing a taxi home, or walking with a group of people in well-lit areas. Stay safe by knowing about all the options available to you before walking home.

“Free attack alarms are also available from the SRC Advice Centre for any student wishing to carry one.”

A number of students also explained their concern about the public access footbridge entrance of the student complex. Some recalled being followed and intimidated when using the footbridge, particularly when members of the public gather near the entrance.

A comparison of the crime statistics for the past year of Maryhill with those of Glasgow’s West End show that there is a much higher incidence of violent crime in Maryhill, although the figures for rape and attempted rape are slightly higher in the West End. A significant proportion of the Murano Street residents knew personally at least one other student who had been a victim of crime during their stay at the halls.

Donald Steven – 18

“I know a few people who have experienced violent crime, but when I first came, I didn’t really have any awareness about safety. The police sent an email once, but it just said to watch out.”

Patricia Ferguson, Labour MSP for Glasgow Maryhill, told Guardian that a number of different measures were underway to reduce crime in her constituency and that the student presence helped to enhance the area.

She said: “There are several initiatives being taken forward at the moment but perhaps the most significant is that the local Community Planning Partnership have funded the employment of an additional ten community officers to work in the area. This, together with action to crack down on the illegal sale of drink and the provision of diversionary activity will, I hope, help to reduce the statistics.

“The student halls in Murano Street have been good for Maryhill’s economy and the students are a welcome addition to what is a very diverse area.”

A spokesperson for the University denied that there was any serious crime problem affecting the student residents of Murano Street and claimed that the safety of its students is a priority concern for the institution:

“The personal safety of our students is of paramount importance to the University. Safety messages are constantly reinforced to by staff at all student residences and Residential Services continue to make security awareness a priority.

“The University has no figures to suggest that violent crime is any higher in the Murano Street area compared to elsewhere in the West Wend. There was one violent incident involving students recorded last year and the police made an arrest. Residential Services liaise closely with police on a continual basis to ensure that student safety is maintained.”