New Students

Staying safe in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a safe city with a low crime rate, but it is still important that you pay attention to your personal safety. You should be aware of the laws in the UK and Scotland while you are living here.

Emergency services - call 999

If you need to call the emergency services, including police, fire brigade and ambulance, call 999.

Emergency services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Non-emergency services

Police - call 101, anywhere in Scotland

Fire - in Edinburgh, call 0131 228 2401

NHS 24 - call 111, anywhere in Scotland

How to stay safe

In your accommodation

  • Keep your bank cards safe and separate from your pin numbers
  • Keep your windows and doors closed and locked when you go out, even if you will only be out for a short time
  • Keep your curtains or blinds closed at night
  • Keep your valuables out of sight of windows
  • Make a list of your belongings, including the make, model and serial numbers
  • Take photographs of your valuables - they may be needed for insurance purposes if anything is damaged or stolen
  • Always ask unknown visitors to your door for identification (ID) before allowing them to enter your home - anyone from the University, City Council, or gas and electric companies will be able to show you their ID
  • Make sure there is a smoke alarm in your accommodation and test it regularly


  • Beware of people following directly behind you to gain access to buildings, especially in University accommodation.
  • Take extra care of your personal belongings.
  • Do not leave valuables like mobile phones and laptops unattended in the Library or bikes unlocked anywhere.
  • Be vigilant when using your phone in public spaces – phones are among the most stolen items.
  • Planning your night out to include charging your phone before leaving, being careful about how much alcohol to consume and knowing your way home.

Moving around the city

  • Don't walk home alone at night - plan your journey in advance, and try to stay with friends
  • Tell a friend where you are going, and when to expect you back - if your plans change, let them know
  • If you are left on your own, stay in well-lit areas with other people around you
  • If you are in a bar or nightclub, don’t leave your drink unattended
  • Keep your money secure and out of sight
  • Be aware of your surroundings

If you ever need assistance: 

In case of an emergency, if you have lost your wallet or find yourself stranded, Student Association have partnered up with Central Taxis to provide you with the option of paying back your fare at a later date meaning there’s no need to worry, even if you’ve got no cash or cards on you

Emergency Taxi Scheme

Police Scotland and the British Council have published guides which offer advice on staying safe during your time at the University.

Student Safety Guides 

The University Security team is always available on campus for advice or assistance and are easily recognisable by their red jackets.

University Security Section website


How to protect yourself against scams 

Scams are schemes to cheat you out of money and are now very sophisticated (and can be complex). Anyone can be targeted, and everyone is at risk. It is important you learn how to recognise a scam and protect yourself against them.

Specific scams to be aware of from right now

  • Question any unexpected contact - this includes phone calls, letters, emails or people knocking on your door who you do not recognise
  • Don’t rush into a decision about anything, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
  • If in doubt, speak to someone you trust

Making payments

  • Don’t assume everyone is genuine. If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service or requesting money upfront, they are unlikely to be genuine.
  • It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try and rush or panic you.
  • Only purchase goods and services from legitimate retailers and always take a moment before parting with your money or personal information

IT security 

  • Never give out personal information and watch what you share on social media - this can be used to steal your identity and access accounts
  • Keep mobiles devices, operating system and virus protection software up to date
  • Make sure all accounts have a strong password and change them regularly
  • Use safe and secure WiFi connections and avoid public WiFi. Your standard 3G or 4G connection is often more secure than the one in the coffee shop or restaurant
  • Make sure any websites you are using are secure - check to see if the web address starts with HTTPS, not just HTTP

Sexual Violence 

Sexual harassment and violence can be defined as any act of a sexual nature which occurs without someone’s freely given consent. This includes unwanted sexual comments – in person and online, groping, stalking, sexual assault and rape.

Sexual harassment and violence can happen to anyone; it is never the fault of the person experiencing it.

If you have experienced sexual harassment or violence you have the right to report it and access support. The links below provide information on reporting and support services, but if you are unsure what next steps to take, please contact the Advice Place.


The Advice Place

  • Edinburgh University Students' Association

Contact details



5/2 Bristo Square


Additional Information

General Laws

Some laws in the UK and Scotland are important to remember:

  • The legal age to drink alcohol is 18
  • The legal age to buy cigarettes and tobacco is 18
  • You cannot smoke in public places indoors, including bars, offices and any University building
  • You must not carry illegal drugs or substances with you, or supply illegal substances to others
  • It is illegal to carry any sort of weapon, including knives and pepper spray

Driving in the UK

If you plan to drive in the UK you should know the rules of the road. If you do not obey the rules you can face fines and prosecution.

  • You must hold a full valid driving licence to drive in the UK
  • You must be insured to drive in the UK
  • Your car must have valid road tax
  • In the UK, cars drive on the left-hand side and overtake on the right
  • You must not drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • You must adhere strictly to speed limits (normally 20 miles per hour in cities)
  • You must not use your mobile phone when driving