A student safety event, hosted by Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Student Assembly, has uncovered a raft of concerns from students across the region.
The evening, which was also endorsed by Annie Mac, encouraged students to discuss safety issues both in their College and University lives and on a night out, was attended by over 150 students.
A wide range of concerns were voiced, including the threat of knife crime, sexual harassment, drug culture, the behaviour of security and bouncers, and safety in LGBT+ communities.
Drug safety was one of the main topics of the evening, with students worried about telling security, police or paramedics for fear of negative repercussions, and Lord committing to continuing his partnership with Manchester Drug Analysis and Knowledge Exchange (MANDRAKE) to test drugs confiscated at The Warehouse Project and Parklife.
Students also voiced support for more drug education in a call that was echoed by the University of Manchester Student Union Women’s Officer Ayla Huseyinoglu.
In a response to worries over safety and knife crime, especially on public transport, Burnham acknowledged the issue saying more police officers have been recruited through council tax. He also placed particular emphasis on discussing safety in student accommodation during the evening, calling the recent fire in Bolton a “scandal”, and saying it should be “a call to arms to change”.
Also joining Burnham and Lord on the panel were Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett died in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, as well as Nick Pope, whose son Charlie drowned in the Manchester canals.
Murray raised concerns over student residential areas outside the city centre which aren’t as well policed, including Fallowfield, Rusholme, and Withington, and called for greater University security presence – especially for females.
“Be extremely demanding of your universities. You pay a lot of student fees and it shouldn’t just be about tuition. The universities have an obligation to keep you safe,” she said.
Reviewing the event, Lord commented, “For the first time, all universities across Greater Manchester came together to talk about how we can improve student safety, and we’ve learnt a lot. From drug concerns, to transport needs and the behaviour of security staff, all the issues raised will be taken away and discussed at length with the team to see where we can improve.”
“To hear from the young people themselves about what they want is vital to ensuring that everyone – young, old, male female, LGBT+ or minority groups – feel safe, whether they’re on a night out, shopping in the city, or getting a bus home. We want to be a 24-hour party city and we can’t be unless everyone is included.”
The night was also endorsed by Annie Mac, who said: “Safety on a night out is so important; whether we’re clubbing or just going out with friends. We have to look out for each other!”
“I’m delighted that for the first time, all the universities across Greater Manchester came together, along with the Mayor, Andy Burnham, to start openly talking about safety issues on a night out, and creating something that can be spread around the whole city region.”
The session came as Lord continues to implement vast changes across the night time economy in the Greater Manchester region. The past quarter has seen the introduction of later tram routes over the Christmas period and the pilot of the ‘Safe Haven’ nightlife safety scheme in Wigan town centre (a partnership between Wigan Council, St John Ambulance, Greater Manchester Police and Lord).