Freshers in North Yorkshire will work alongside their local police force to help keep students safe at university in a pioneering new volunteering scheme.
North Yorkshire Police visited the Freshers' Fair at the Scarborough campus of Coventry University to recruit Student Crime Prevention Champions.
The community-spirited volunteers will take part in crime prevention initiatives and campaigns alongside the police, giving them an insight into local issues and contributing to a safer environment for students in North Yorkshire.
The first project the students will tackle will be to raise awareness around the dangers associated with ‘money mules’, in which someone allows their bank account to be used by others to transfer money in and out, and in return, keep some of the money for themselves.
Criminals who run such scams will often use fake job adverts, or create social media posts about opportunities to make money quickly, in order to lure potential ‘mules’. Even if the account holder is unaware that the money they are transferring was illegally obtained, they can still be prosecuted.
The student crime prevention champions will be telling fellow students to be aware that no legitimate company will ever ask them to use their own bank account to transfer their money.
Fourteen students have already signed up to the scheme. If it proves successful, the student volunteers could get involved in other crime prevention campaigns, such as online safety and hate crime awareness, and the scheme could be expanded to other universities in North Yorkshire.
Natasha Almond, Citizens in Policing Coordinator Manager at North Yorkshire Police, said: “North Yorkshire is a very safe place in which to live and study, but students can become victims of crime like anyone else – so as the new academic year gets underway, this is a great opportunity to help students stay safe.
“Living away from home for the first time can be quite a culture shock, so it’s really important that students have access to crime prevention advice. This new initiative means they can get this vital information from their peers, as well as from the police, while at the same time giving our student volunteers a valuable insight into police issues.”
The voluntary role is designed to provide students with the opportunity to help the police as and when they can, rather than commit to a long-term role.
The students will initially receive training from cyber-crime and fraud police specialists.