Disclaimer: These are the views of the Rag Chair Elect and not necessarily those of Rag or of Loughborough Students' Union.
I've just entered my last term of my third year, having lived in Harry French for all three years. Loughborough University prides itself on its safe, self-contained campus. A feeling generally held by most who live there. Having lived in HF, I am pleased to say that I may not quite be in these campus confines, but generally I feel safe where I live.
I am however, someone who has friends who have been burgled or assaulted, and I have personally had most of the parts of my bike stolen over multiple occasions.
Like most campus universities, Loughborough has its own dedicated Campus Police Officer, to make sure campus is safe, work with university security and presumably to make sure students feel protected. Currently that is the job of PC Suzie and Charlotte.
For the first two years of my study, I felt this was the case. This year, I don't.
Having been a fresher, and sat on committee twice (and through the talks that all of this entails) each year begins with the obligatory talk to halls from the police.
The first two years, were done by PC Mike. I can still remember a short and sweet talk that engaged us as students and built a rapport with the committees, the people who would be responsible for trying to look after thousands of students during freshers.
After that is the talk to the freshers. He walked in and announced he was "a freshers virgin," to rapturous applause. PC Mike managed to engage the freshers and also present a serious message. He appreciated we were students and respected us. In turn he got the respect from us he deserved.
This year conversely, we were shown a long, old, out of touch video and little engagement from our two Police officers, and it was evident our freshers were bored.
PC Mike had a way of showing that things were being done. He took pride on his Facebook friend numbers (from what I remember he had over 4000), had a page where people would ask if anyone else had seen their bikes etc, and from what I saw, he would virtually always respond. Even if there's nothing he could do, he would at least show he acknowledged the problem.
I spent a good couple of hours trying to find the page for PC Suzie and Charlotte on Facebook, but still to no avail. I have however seen their twitter and though there is good deal of activity, there seems to be little student engagement on it.
Ask any third years (or even second years) who PC Mike is, and not only will they probably know, they'll probably have some sort of story about him. I asked a Harry French Fresher, Amos Rowell:
"Do you know the names of the current campus police officers?"
"I can't say I do, I know they're female?"
I'm not saying that to be a good police officer you need to be a "lad," nor am I saying that you need to be my friend. But if you want students to respect you, if you want students to behave when they see the police, then showing them that you respect them and understand that they are students will ultimately benefit everyone. Making sure the students know who you are is vital.
According to figures on police.uk crime figures for campus in February 2012 stand at 51 reported cases, including 11 cases of violent crime. In February 2011, the figure stood at 9. I am not suggesting that one police officer can stop all crime across campus, but it only takes one police officer to make us feel safe.
Students deserve a Police Officer that appreciates they are dealing with students and one that makes an effort to build a rapport with them. Students deserve a Police Officer that respects them and will be respected in turn. Students deserve PC Mike.