Residents of Peel Park accommodation have voiced their concerns over long-running vandalism, thefts, harassment, and in some cases assaults that have been perpetrated by young people wearing balaclavas and hoods across campus.
University of Salford students have reported phones and cars being either stolen or vandalised by hooded teenagers at the university’s biggest and newest accommodation site.
Many claim that the action taken by the university and the company that runs the accommodation, Campus Living Villages (CLV), has been inadequate.
The CLV accommodation resides on the university Peel Park campus and is split into two. Many residents of both sites have either been directly impacted or say they have heard about people being harassed across the campus, nearby train stations, and bus stops.
One student who has asked not to be named said: “I have lived at Peel Park this year and last year as well and the main issue is that some people either on bikes or mopeds, they are usually wearing balaclavas which is quite intimidating by itself. What they will do is, they will ride past you and steal your phone.”
“Three of my friends had their phones stolen.”
Other residents have reported similar incidents, some involving sexual harassment of women. Salford student Grace Glennon said: “I’ve seen these guys come around, they are wearing balaclavas and there on like mopeds bikes or scooters, I have seen them sexually harassing girls. Run past smack them on the bottom and I think that there have been people saying that they have punched people as well and going around and shouting derogatory things at women.”
University student Samantha Malt echoed these concerns in a letter to the university student representative concerning the incidents across campus, saying: “I was also walking around campus after being at the Atmosphere bar which is not even a 1-minute walk from the lowry building where I live and got harassed by these bikers, one, they almost rode into us and two they started shouting at me saying “look at the tits on her” and then proceed to circle back around and constantly ask if I was single.”
Despite these incidents, many university students say they have yet to see sufficient action from CLV or the university itself to address the issue.
The student who asked not to be named said: “When I applied to live here it said that there would be 24hr security, but the bottom line is there isn’t.”
CLV has said in a statement that: “Campus Living Villages takes the safety of our residents extremely seriously. We place the utmost importance on the health and safety of our residents and investigate each complaint that is reported to us, working closely with the University to support all that live with us.”
However, Alfie Alleyne, who also works at the bar in the university’s student union, talked about his differing experiences with the harassment and vandalism that he had seen, saying: “I parked my vehicle last year under the Delaney side and kids were hanging about and stuff and because of covid they thought they were safe. And there was a lot of windows from footballs broken mirrors lots of smashed back windows of cars.”
When he was asked if he had seen any action from the university or CLV to tackle the issues across campus he replied: “Not at all.”
Salford university said in a statement that: “After learning of this incident, we proactively increased security patrols on campus, alongside implementing extra security measures at our gates.”
However, Mr Alleyne said: “there’s no regulation on who’s coming in and out of the accommodation. I think there’s been twice where I have seen a member of CLV security by the gate checking for ID but other than that there is no regulation.”
This apparent lack of action has, and continues to have, real-life consequences as an anonymous source said that they had to yell to a girl walking in Peel Park to put her phone away as a boy on a moped was riding up behind her to try and steal her phone.
The student who asked not to be named also said: “it only seems like it’s getting worse at the moment. In the past, it seems like they were only stealing phones but now, there has actually been reports of people being hit or chased, or like laying traps in the car park with trolleys and stuff so it’s been really scary.”
There is another theme that seems to be establishing itself regarding reports of these incidents across both CLV accommodation sites and this is a lack of security in the car parks under the accommodation buildings.
Students have reported cars being vandalised and even stolen, as was the case with student Samantha Malt.
Malt said in a letter to the university student representative: “I would firstly like to add that at the end of October 2021 my car was stolen from the car park when sorting this out with security they were helpful by finding out the car involved in the theft and passing the info onto the police. When asking CLV who owned the car park they said it was uni when speaking to the uni then said it was them and we went back of forth between the student union, the uni itself and the campus living villages which I thought was appalling that no one was owning up to owning the car park.”
Mr Alleyne echoed these claims too, saying: “The car parks are in no way secure.” The monthly cost for students to use these car parks is £30.
Ms Glennon spoke of more issues concerning the security of the car parks. She said: There have been things going on like the car park cars being stolen, damages, windows being broken. One of my flatmates pays about nearly £30 to have her car there and she uses her car pretty much every day she’s on placement, she’s a midwife training to be a midwife, and not feeling safe around the place where she’s supposed to be living for a year is bad.”
The university said in a statement: “We also recently introduced the use of a new safety app, SafeZone, that staff and students can download to provide them with access to emergency or urgent assistance should they need it, first aid, and the ability to report emergency incidents and concerns when moving around across our campuses.”
Anyone who has been impacted by these incidents can contact Greater Manchester Police on 0800 555 111.