The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Safety & Security

Although Bristol is generally a safe city, every year a number of University of Bristol students are victims of crime. It is worth taking some basic steps to avoid making yourself a potential target.

+ Getting Around Safely

Click here to see our advice for navigating the city safely

When navigating around the city, there are some useful things to bear in mind as a general city-goer:


  • Always try to walk with a friend, particularly at night

  • Where possible, stick to well-lit and busy routes

  • If you’re walking home on your own, tell someone what time you expect to be back or use an app like Companion, that allows family and friends to keep an eye on you as you travel late at night

  • Be aware of your surroundings: iPods and phones reduce your perception of what’s going on around you

  • Keep your personal belongings inconspicuous, such as carrying your laptop in a sports bag or rucksack

  • Keep your keys in your pocket in case your bag is stolen

  • Walk facing traffic, so no-one can pull up behind you in a car


  • Remember that only hackney cabs (which are painted blue, and display council licence plates with a white background) are allowed to pick up passengers when flagged down

  • Private hire cars (which display council licence plates with a yellow background) aren’t allowed to pick up passengers when they’re flagged down – be wary of any vehicles which do this

  • If you have a bad experience in a taxi, you can complain to Bristol City Council. Try to collect as much evidence as possible, such as the vehicle plate number and the driver badge number


  • Don’t be afraid to ring 999 if you feel you are being followed

  • The University’s Security Services control room can be reached on 87848 and a 24-hour emergency contact number can be found on the back of your student card

  • Consider carrying a personal alarm – you can get one from the Just Ask advisers

  • In halls, or any other University property, be careful who follows you into the building. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone for their University ID, and if they refuse – call Security

+ Drink Spiking

Click here to see our advice for staying safe on nights out, as well as what to do if your, or a friend's drink has been spiked

“Spiking” means putting a substance in a person’s drink with the intention of incapacitating them (often to take advantage of the effect that substance has on them). The substances are usually clear, odourless and tasteless, and may be in the form of liquids, tablets or powders.

Reactions to drink spiking vary from individual to individual, and also depend on the substance used and the dosage given. The NHS has a pretty comprehensive list of symptoms, but some common effects are:

  • Feeling intoxicated or drowsy

  • Having difficulty speaking or concentrating

  • Nausea

  • Falling unconscious

  • Feeling out of control, paranoid or scared

If you or a friend feel any of these effects, or otherwise suspect that your drink might have been spiked:

  • Tell a friend you trust

  • If you’re in a pub or club, ask your friend to tell the manager

  • Call 999

  • If you still have the drink, keep hold of it so that if you go to hospital and/or the police, they can test it.

Although still relatively rare, incidences of drink-spiking are increasing. But there are some basic things you can do to avoid your drink being spiked:

  • Know your tolerance levels for alcohol – if your drink has been spiked, you are likely to react in a different way to normal

  • Think carefully before accepting a drink

  • Don’t leave your drinks unattended

  • Try to make sure that you open cans or bottles yourself

  • If there’s ANYTHING strange about your drink, throw it away

  • Don’t assume that you’ll be safe if you stick to soft drinks – the drugs used to spike drinks work in soft drinks as well as in alcohol

If you believe you have been the victim of crime (and remember that drink spiking itself is a crime!), we recommend that you report it to the police

+ At Home

Click here to see our advice on keeping your possessions and your home safe, as well as what to do if you are burgled

Lock It!

  • A third of all burglaries happen because a door or window has been left open. If you're in a private home or flat, lock up whenever you go out - with deadbolts if you have them

  • Ask your landlord to fit deadlocks to all outside doors - burglars hate them because you need a key to open them from the inside as well as the outside. And ask them to put key operated locks on all downstairs or accessible windows - burglars don't like having to smash windows because of the noise and the danger of cutting themselves

  • Lock up goods in your garden - including ladders, tools and bikes - not only are these are at risk from being stolen, but burglars can also use them to break in

Protect It!

  • Try to make sure your and your housemates' laptops and other valuables can't be seen from your window. Also, don't leave empty boxes of new purchases outside for burglars to see

  • Marking your property helps to deter burglars and can help the police to catch them. Mark your property with the initials of your university and your student ID number.

+ If you are assaulted

Click here for information about what to do if you or someone you know are a victim of an assault

If you have been assaulted recently, the links here will help you get urgent help:

Rape or sexual assault

If you have been pressured or forced to have sex or engage in sexual activity when you don't want to.

Other assault

Have you been physically or verbally assaulted?

If the situation is less urgent:

  • See more advice from us about what to do if you are the victim of a crime.
  • Please remember that sexual assault (or any other crime) is never the survivor’s fault, and your behaviour, drug or alcohol intake is no excuse
  • Survivors of assault can experience short-term effects such as nightmares, flash-backs, sleep problems, anxiety and changes in behaviour. Emotional responses vary from person to person: there is no such thing as a “normal” response to being attacked.

If you have been assaulted, please remember that you are not alone: there are many ways to deal with your situation and many people who can help:

  • A Just Ask adviser can give you confidential and impartial advice – we won’t try to influence your decisions, just offer our support
  • The University’s Counselling Service offers a range of free and confidential ways to support students through tough times
  • The Student Health Service offer pregnancy and sexual health testing
  • The University’s Multifaith Chaplaincy offers confidential personal support

You may also find the following links useful: