Derwent ‘NICKED’ scheme encourages better security

A Derwent welfare scheme has highlighted problems with on-campus accommodation security as it revealed that almost half of the college’s student rooms had been left unlocked.

The welfare drive, called ‘NICKED’, took place on Wednesday, March 7 and saw Derwent College’s chair Francesca Knight and welfare representatives Katy Tinman and Benjamin Clynes go around the college to see how many students had left their rooms unlocked and unsecure.

©Derwent College

They found that 45% of rooms checked, out of just over 100, were unlocked with expensive valuables clearly visible, including laptops, keys, block key-cards and phones.

They put post-it notes saying 'NICKED' on a valuable item in rooms that had been left unlocked to indicate to students how easy it would be for someone to enter their room and steal their possessions.

The committee members also revealed that out of the four college blocks they entered, three of the main doors were on the latch, meaning anyone can get into the blocks.

The idea for the scheme was first brought up in a meeting with the Vice Chancellor and Jane Grenville, and was carried out with the permission of the college provost and administrator, and also had the support of YUSU.

Derwent Chair Knight said: “This is part of a big security push we're doing to highlight to the university how unsecure our campus is and to push the need for more security cameras, especially in Derwent where 35% of students said they felt 'unsafe' in a recent survey.

“The results we found demonstrate how laid back students can be regarding their personal security. We really hope this will change next term due to the campaign, and hope that better security is brought into Derwent as a result of 'Nicked', which was our ultimate goal.

“We wanted to show students the importance of locking their doors and to do their bit to reduce crime and help the campaign.”

Knight added: “Bearing in mind we ran in and ran out in a few seconds it is scary how quickly these things could have been taken. We estimated that if a laptop was taken from every room the cost to these students would have totalled £23,000 as all insurance is automatically void when a bedroom door is left unlocked.”

YUSU Welfare Officer Bob Hughes added: "I think the campaign was incredibly powerful and hard-hitting, and has been an excellent way of getting students to think about the security of their belongings.

"The JCRC's findings are shocking, and we hope to use them to not only encourage students to lock their doors, but to highlight to the university the dire need for greater investment in cameras and security around blocks."

However, ‘NICKED’ has received much criticism on its Facebook event page, including a comment from student Michael Whittall who said: “How many people could be in/on the same floor simply doing a mundane task when this happened or simply in someone’s room.... fair enough raising awareness but as for the doors being on the latch, one door going into B block doesn't shut properly all the time so can’t be the fault of the students.”

Joe Field commented that the scheme could have been approached differently and said: “The only awareness I can see here is highlighting the opportunity for burglary...there are far more tactful ways of letting people know about the dangers of leaving your door open, for example taking down the door number and dropping that person an email.”

Michael Taggart agreed that attention should not have been drawn to the lack of security in the college, saying: “At least anyone who's interested knows how many doors are open now.”

In response to this feedback, Knight told The Yorker: “We did expect a few negative responses as we were aware that some people would become defensive about being caught leaving their doors unlocked.

“We aim to respond to these tonight at our welfare drop in session, which is specifically for people who would like to talk through our campaign and suggest improvements.

“We would like all Derwent students to be aware that this was a campaign intended to promote personal safety and security within the college. Myself, Katy and Ben did not wish to upset any students - this was ultimately done to improve student welfare. In both our campaigns we stated that security was a major issue which we wanted to address, and will continue to do so.

Last May, a brand new television, a Nintendo Wii with games and dvds were stolen from Derwent JCR after doors were left unlocked, resulting in a review of college security.

The welfare drop-in session tonight (Thursday, March 8) in the Derwent Welfare room from 5-7pm will be used specifically for people with questions or queries about the ‘NICKED’ security drive.

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