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Students React to Broadlands Murder


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The revelation on Friday morning that a woman had been found seriously injured in a flat in Portswood, and had died shortly after while being attended to by paramedics, has shocked the local community and students alike. Despite police reassurance that the attack was not random and that no one is currently at risk in the Portswood area, it is hard to ignore unsettling situations such as this, particularly so close to home.

TNS spoke to some students of the University of Southampton and heard their reactions to this sad event. Charlotte Johnson, a first year student who has made plans to live in Portswood next year, said: ‘I find it very concerning. As a female I already feel vulnerable when I go on nights out or walk in the dark, and the fact that the incident happened both near to the university and near to the area where I'll be living next year makes it worse.’

Florence Fagan, a small halls student planning to move to Portswood in the coming year agreed, adding: ‘it is alarming that so much crime seems to happen in a primarily student neighbourhood. It seems to be the case that crime in student areas is just accepted as one of those things.’

It is clear that whilst the student community is not directly implicated in the Broadlands Road Investigation, many within it have been affected by the incident.

However, a current resident of Broadlands Road, student Kerry Matthews, said of the event: ‘I was very shocked to see what appeared to be an investigation of a serious crime less than 100m from my home, although I would say that it doesn't make me feel any more unsafe than usual as coming from a rural town to a city means I am never lackadaisical with personal safety.’

Similarly, student Ben Collins emphasised the isolated nature of the incident: ‘I'm not concerned about my safety and I'm not worried to go out as, unfortunately, these things happen. A string of events would have been worrying but this has not occurred.’

Nevertheless, the investigation has brought to light concerns over individual welfare and forced students to further consider what needs to be done to maintain the well-being of the community late at night.

Having discussed the position of the university regarding personal safety, Miss Johnson suggested: ‘It may help if the university organised talks on staying safe, provided rape alarms or even gave personal combat classes.’

The interviewed students also agreed on a need for collaboration with Miss Fagan adding: ‘If the university and city council work together to stand up to criminals, then perhaps this trend could be reversed. More street lighting would help, for example.’

Campaigning for increased street lighting in Portswood has already gone ahead, hopefully this will be something that the council consider implementing in the near future.

Resident of Portswood, Miss Matthews, showed the voice of experience and remarked: ‘I think this was to a certain extent an unavoidable crime as it wasn't a random attack, but in general I think more police patrols in Portswood would be a good idea.’

Without doubt, crime in Portswood is definitely an issue that needs to be discussed and tackled. It is important that both the local council and the university play a role in allaying the fears which exist. The current SUSU elections have commenced debate over what the student body expects in the coming year; selected candidates, particularly that of Vice President of Welfare, will have to ensure that the issue of student safety remains at the top of the agenda.

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