Police and personal safety
We are sure you will find Scotland a very safe and positive environment in which to live and study, and hope you will have no reason for direct contact with the police. Occasionally situations will arise where you may need assistance from the police, for example if you were the subject of, or witness to, a crime. You will also have direct contact with the police if your behaviour or actions have led to you being arrested or charged with an offence.
The police authorities take their combined role of enforcing law and order very seriously, and offer information on how to avoid becoming the victim of crime and work to help any member of the public who finds themselves in difficulties. Police Scotland has produced safety guidance especially for students, based on their experience of providing support and advice.
The British Council has also produced a useful guide, Creating Confidence, which provides detailed and practical information on how to stay safe in the UK.
Safety on campus
Information about Health and Saftey on campus, including contact details for the Health and Safety team, can be found on the Safety website. Further guidance about safety on campus and in your accommodation can be found in our information leaflets.
Each of our campuses have CCTV and Security Officers who patrol the campus 24 hours a day and can be contacted at any time should you need help, information or assistance.
Halls of residence
If you are staying at the Edinburgh campus, each hall of residence has a Warden. This is an experienced student who lives in the halls with you, and is a point of contact should you need any help. There are always two Wardens who are on call between 17:00 hours to 23:00 hours every night. They can be contacted by calling in at main reception or by telephoning 3501 from the phone in your room. Wardens are not available after 23:00 hours.
If it is urgent or if you need assistance after 23:00 hours, please contact security on 0131 451 3500, or by dialling 2222 on an internal telephone. If that's not possible then you can pick up a red phone situated throughout the public areas in your building.
At the Scottish Borders Campus you can contact the Security Control Room by calling: 01896 892273. Overnight there are Residences Security Officers on duty for your welfare and safety.
Fire Safety for those with a disability
Our Disability Team and Health and Safety team can offer Personal Care Plans for those who have access issues to ensure you can get out of the building safely in the event of a fire. Our Disability Team can meet with you to agree a Personal Care Plan. Depending on your individual needs, this may include the provision of fire alarm pagers for during the day and vibrating pillow pads to wake students who are deaf or hard of hearing at night if the fire alarm sounds.
If you are on-campus and need any emergency assistance, please follow the emergency procedures detailed on our website.
We request that you do not contact emergency services via the 999 system and that you notify Security who will summon emergency services as appropriate under controlled conditions.
In the event of an emergency off-campus, the Police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service can be contacted by dialling 999. This service is available 24 hours a day.
If you need to report a crime which is not an emergency you can do so by phoning 101. This service is available 24 hours a day.
Police Scotland are friendly and approchable and are there for your safety – you should not hesitate to approach Police Officers should you need help.
Travelling around Scotland is generally safe as long as you do so with a sensible approach. You can find additional information and tips about using public transport safely in the Britsih Council, ‘Creating Confidence' booklet.
The main bus operater in Edinburgh is Lothian Buses who provide a large number of services during the day and also at night. Lothian night buses run from midnight to 4.30 am and include the service N25 which serves the Heriot Watt Edinburgh campus. They offer single journey tickets as well as unlimited journey, Student Ridacards.
In the Scottish Borders buses are operated by First Bus and in particularly the 95/X95 service which operates in and around Galashiels and connects to Edinburgh City Centre.
In scotland there are private hire and public (normally black-cab) taxi companies. All taxis need to be registered (with either Edinburgh City Council or Scottish Borders Council in Galashiels). They must clearly display their licence details in their vehicle and the driver must wear an ID badge. You can pre-book taxis and can also hail one from the street if it is showing an orange 'taxi' light at the top. We recommend booking a taxi in advance where possible, and would avoid wallking alone to hail one.
Trains around Scotland are generally safe and reliable and are operated by Scotrail. The Borders Railway connects Galashiels with Edinburgh and may be of interest if you are studying at the Scottish Borders Campus.
Heriot Watt University operates a twice daily shuttle bus which travels between our Edinburgh and Scottish Borders Campus. Please see the following link for the current timetable.
Useful tips and information
Please refer to the Police Scotland Student Safety page where you will find information about topics such as security at home and on campus, staying safe on a night out, protecting yourself from online fraud, accommodation renting and flat sharing.
You may also wish to read through the British Council ‘Creating Confidence' and ‘Safety First' guides – a thorough guide to staying safe in the UK. Although some of this may seem like common sense, we would strongly encourage you to take the time to read through this and know where to get help should you need it.