Students walking to lectures
Walking to lectures together, Oriel College, Oxford
Copyright © John Carins Photography. This image comes from Oxford University Images - All rights reserved.

Personal safety

We all deserve to be part of a community where we feel safe, welcome and respected. As part of the University of Oxford community, it is important to prioritise our own safety, as well as the safety of others at all times. Although risks are often external, there are precautions we can personally take to minimise potential harm.


  • When walking around the city, try to walk in groups. If this is not possible make sure you stay aware of what is going on around you. Wear one earphone instead of two.
  • Always make sure that your phone and purse/wallet are kept out of view or carried in an inside pocket where possible.
  • Always use pre-booked licensed taxis. Before you get in, check the name of the person they have come to collect and the destination. Don't volunteer the information first.
  • When cycling, always wear a helmet and reflective clothing and ensure that your bike is fitted with lights and a bell.

For advice on getting home after a night out, visit the nights out page.

Holding on to your possessions

  • If someone is trying to snatch your bag, let it go. You may get hurt holding on to it. Try to get a description of the attacker and tell the police immediately by calling 999.
  • In most robberies, thieves attempt to steal mobile phones. Make sure you register your phone with Immobilise – this helps the police to recover your phone if it's stolen.
  • Don't leave possessions unsupervised.


  • Use cash machines during the daytime if possible. It is best to use a well-lit cash point. Avoid machines in dimly-lit and quiet areas.
  • Make sure that you put your card and cash away quickly – don’t keep them on display.
  • Never write down your Personal Identification Number (PIN).
  • Make sure you know your account number and sort code so that you can cancel your card quickly if it is lost or stolen.
  • Only carry enough cash to cover what you need to buy and your journey home.
  • If you have contactless pay on your phone, make sure you also carry a backup bank card or cash in case your phone gets stolen while you are out.

Personal safety

  • If you think you are being followed, cross the road several times if necessary and walk to a busy place (like a shop, an office, or petrol station – or if there is no alternative, knock on someone's door). Call a friend or family member to come and meet you or pick you up.
  • Any Oxford University student can ask for help from any college lodge participating in the Safe Lodge scheme. Look out for the green circle by the lodge entrance where you can go in and ask for a phone call back to your own college welfare team and a taxi home.
  • Shout and scream as loud as you can if you're being attacked, are threatened, or at risk of being attacked. This will alert people who may be able to help. It is also likely to cause the offender to run off.
  • Consider buying a personal attack alarm to help in this sort of situation. Keep it in an easily accessible place and carry it in your hand if you feel at risk.
  • If you regularly go jogging or cycling, try to vary your route and time. Stick to well-lit roads with pavements. If you wear a personal stereo, remember you can't hear traffic, or somebody approaching behind you – it is always safer to wear only one earphone. You may wish to use a personal safety app such as Hollie Guard.
  • Sometimes you can find yourself in a situation that isn’t safe or that makes you feel uncomfortable. In premises that operate Ask for Angela, you can discreetly ask for help from a member of staff if this happens.

Sexual Harassment and violence

  • Sexual harassment and violence of any form is never acceptable and never the victims' fault. Oxford University seeks to protect our students, as well as offer free and confidential support to all students affected by sexual harassment and violence through the University's Support Service (independent of your college or department, and whenever or wherever the incident occurred).

Armed attacks: Run. Hide. Tell.

  • You should remain alert to the danger of terrorism or other armed attacks but should not let fear stop you from going about your normal day-to-day life. In the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack, please follow this Counter Terrorism Policing Guide.

None of these suggestions guarantee you will be safe, but they can all make you less vulnerable to being targeted by others.

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