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Social media to aid police blitz on student crime
POLICE have armed themselves with a new mobile phone app in the fight against student crime.
The new app, The Oxford Student Guide, is targeted at foreign students and gives advice on how to keep safe visiting Oxford.
About 10,000 students come into the city every year who are new to the area – and some end up being criminal targets.
The free program contains a guide to the city, a map with safe havens highlighted, bus time-tables and a page to store contact details of host families.
PCSO David Hession, crime reduction adviser, came up with the idea after Oxford City Council produced a paper map for the students.
He said: “We thought we would bring it into the 21st century, and what every student has is a mobile phone.
“They come over and they don’t know the area.”
The app is to be tested later this month, before being officially launched next year.
It comes as officers this week use social media to spread crime reduction advice as students arrive at Oxford Brookes University.
Supt Christian Bunt, Oxford area commander, said the city housed 30,000 students and about 10,000 of them were new to the city every year.
He said students needed reminding how to protect their bicycles, computers and phones from thieves.
He said: “One of the challenges of policing a city like Oxford is every year we have to re-educate thousands of people coming to the city. It can be a challenging time for us.”
The force is urging students to sign up to receive email crime alerts and follow the police team’s updates and advice on Twitter.
Students are also being encouraged to download tracking software and back up their work in case their computers are stolen.
Supt Bunt said: “(Social media) enables us to get messages out very quickly to a large number of people. We increasingly need to think outside the box with crime reduction advice and how we get it across.”
Extra police patrols in crime hotspots have led to a 19 per cent fall in robberies this summer.
Operation Buzzard, which runs from June to September, sees police step up patrols in a bid to stop robbers hitting foreign students. While the operation ran this year, there were 29 robberies in the city compared to 36 in the same period last year.
The app was funded by Oxford City Council.
- To get the app, visit safeplaceoxford.co.uk