By Gabriella Mansell
A year on from the sexual attacks that took place during September 2015, Gair Rhydd investigate students’ perceptions of safety in Cathays and the wider Cardiff area. We sought to determine if students’ opinions have changed since these attacks and whether the student body believe that the Students’ Union’s schemes have helped to improve safety concerns.
Following the survey undertaken by Gair Rhydd, the results were found to be mainly positive and any negativity was fairly constructive, mainly concerning how the Union could help students and improve current initiatives.
Students were asked to rank their general feeling of safety following the attacks last year. 47 per cent of student respondents said that after the attacks their perception of safety was altered in a negative way. A further 8.3 per cent said that their perception towards safety was altered in a strong negative way.
Although this means that the majority of respondents felt less safe after the attacks, it also suggests people will hopefully be more aware of their personal safety in Cardiff at night.
We asked students to state which safety schemes run by the Students’ Union (in conjunction with Cardiff Council and South Wales Police) that they knew of. 84 per cent of students were aware of the Safe Taxi Scheme. However, only 32.7 per cent of students were aware of increased security and police patrols. And only a further 36 per cent were aware of the Student Safety Bus, which is one of the main initiatives run by South Wales Police.
When questioned further about the lack of knowledge regarding safety schemes available, many students voiced their concerns for increasing awareness.
One student said: “I feel that the university has not adequately advertised the student safety bus scheme, which in my opinion would be something that most students would take advantage of”.
Another student added: “The Union should advertise the schemes more, for example, posters around the student union and the university. I had not heard of the Safety Bus, Safe Walk Home scheme and I think the Safe Taxi Home scheme needs further clarification”.
An additional student commented: “Advertise the schemes more, they all sound like good ideas but I’ve barely heard or seen any of them advertised around campus”.
The schemes that are being implemented by the Students’ Union to increase student safety are clearly some really useful and well thought out initiatives. However, it is widely agreed that they need promoting further if they are to meet their potential.
Students where also questioned about if the schemes did in fact, make them feel safer. 43 per cent of respondents agreed that they did feel safer with the Union’s schemes in place. Finally, the last question students were asked were if they thought the Union should be doing more to help. The response was generally positive with over 50 per cent of respondents saying that the Union did not need to do anything additionally.
Despite a large percentage of students not being aware of the full range of safety schemes available, the Student Union have several different initiatives.
The main Union scheme is the Safe Taxi Scheme. This initiative has been running since 2012 and is a partnership between Cardiff Student’s Union and Dragon Taxis. The taxi scheme is available 24 hours a day and is there for students who need to get home safely but don’t have any money. All you have to do is phone Dragon Taxis on 029 203 3333 quoting ‘Cardiff University Safe Taxi Scheme’, giving your name and student number. The driver will check this and you will later receive a receipt. Within the next few days, you must visit the Finance Office at the Students’ Union and pay the price of your taxi fare.
When questioned about what the Student Union had to offer President Sophie Timbers said: “With several initiatives in place including the Safe Taxi Scheme in partnership with Dragon Taxis, Drink Aware Crew, the student-led Safety Walk Scheme, and our partnership with South Wales Police Safety Bus, we are delighted to hear students are pleased with the work the Students’ Union has done to educate students on how to keep safe.”
With regards to feedback from the survey she then added: “Following student feedback from the survey we now know lots of students are aware of the different schemes we operate, we are going to ensure we spread the word to students to help them understand more about how to use these initiatives in a time of need. We encourage all students to undertake a volunteering activity too, and this is the sort of thing we’d love more students to get involved with!”