Personal safety

Edinburgh is generally a very safe place, but as with every city it is sensible to take precautions to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

SafeGuarding officers are available 24/7 to help and support Heriot-Watt staff and students – you can contact us via the SafeZone app.

Below is a video and some simple advice on keeping yourself safe on and off the campus:

At home or in your residence

  • Remember to close and lock all doors and windows whenever you’re not in – even if you’re only popping out for a few minutes.
  • Do not leave your personal belongings where they can be seen through doors and windows.
  • Do not allow anyone into your residence unless you know who they are.
  • Don’t put your name or address on your key ring – it could tell a thief where you live.
  • Be a good neighbour – if you’re on good terms with your neighbours then they may look out for you and your property.

Student residents on campus can get assistance 24/7 from the SafeGuarding team – call us via the SafeZone app or by emailing 

Protect your bike

  • Use a good lock – a heavy-duty bike lock can put a thief off trying to steal your bike.
  • Mark your bike – marking your bike with a unique code means the police can trace your bike back to you if it's lost or stolen.
  • Insure it – avoid paying the full cost of a replacement; check if your home insurance covers your bike or take out cycle insurance.
  • Out and about – park your bike in a well-lit area, lock both wheels and the frame to a cycle stand, take any removable items with you, and vary where you park it.
  • At home – store your bike in a locked shed or garage, keep it out of view and secure it to an immovable object. Campus residents can store their bikes in the bike shed at their hall. 

You can get your bike marked for free (£25 in the shops) by SafeGuarding at one of our bike marking events – find out more on the Heriot-Watt portal.

Protect your valuables

  • Don’t leave possessions unattended – even in the library or study spaces.
  • Add details of your mobile phone, laptop, tablet, camera and other property to the National Mobile Property Register – 
  • Keep your mobile phone out of sight when not in use.
  • Use the security lock on all phones, tablets and laptops.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash – and keep a note of your bank phone numbers in case you need to cancel them.

Out and about

Plan how you will get home before you go out.

  • Make sure you have your mobile phone with you and that it is fully charged and has your ICE (in case of emergency) contact in it.
  • Stick with your friends, don't leave with strangers and make sure everyone in your group gets home safely.
  • If you’re going out alone, make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Stay alert at cash machines – cover your PIN, be aware of who’s behind you and keep money out of view.

Party safe

  • Be sensible about how much you drink – you are more at risk when drunk.
  • If you leave your drink unattended, don’t drink it in case it has been spiked – and never accept drinks from strangers.
  • If you feel very drunk or unwell, ask a friend or member of staff for help.
  • Make sure you have enough money left at the end of the night to get home.
  • Look after bags and valuables – especially if you’re under the influence of alcohol.


•    Only book and use taxis from a licenced company and make sure the cab that comes is the one you booked before you get in.
•    Where possible, avoid travelling alone.
•    Walk facing traffic, keep to well-lit areas and never take isolated shortcuts.
•    Don’t accept lifts from strangers.
•    If you’re waiting for a bus after dark, stand in a well-lit place and try to stay away from isolated bus stops.

Online safety

  • Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully – use a different one for each account in case one of them gets hacked.
  • Always download security updates to software and apps when prompted – set them to update automatically if you can.
  • Never use Wi-Fi hotspots for anything confidential – if you are away from secure Wi-Fi, only use 3G or 4G or a VPN.
  • Never reveal personal or financial information in emails or on social networking sites
  • Don’t open attachements or click on links unless you know and trust the source, and remember that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Protect yourself from frauds and scams


  • Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN number or online banking details.
  • Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.
  • Never send money to someone you do not know or have never met.
  • If you suspect something is a telephone scam, hang up and wait five minutes to clear the line – or use another phone – and then call your bank.
  • If you are contacted saying you have won a competition you did not enter, it is not genuine.


Download the SafeZone app to get help or assistance from the SafeGuarding team – both on and off the campus.

Report It

Staff and students at Heriot-Watt can use Report it to tell us confidentially about any kind of unacceptable behaviour such as harassment, bullying or abuse. You do not have to give your name if you don't want to.

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