Right and responsibilities in the UK

Find information about UK laws and contact details for emergency and public services.


Emergency Services

The ambulance, fire and police services are all available 24 hours a day.  You can contact the emergency services by telephoning 999 and asking for the service you need.

If you are not sure which emergency service you require, explain your situation to the operator and they will arrange the help you need.  You should only telephone 999 if the situation is life-threatening or there is a serious risk to you or someone else.

Ambulance Service

Immediate medical care is available by dialling 999 and requesting an ambulance.  This service is only to be used in life-threatening circumstances.  There are two Accident and Emergency departments in Sheffield from which the ambulance service operates.  

See healthcare for further information about health emergencies.

Fire Service

South Yorkshire's Fire & Rescue Service attends all types of fires, including those at homes and incidents such as road traffic collisions or those where people may be trapped or stranded.

If you are in a building that is on fire, you should first leave the building and then call 999.  Wait for the Fire Service to arrive and do not return to the building to collect any personal items.

For information on staying safe please see South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.


The police in the UK work to prevent crime and keep people safe.  There are two main types of UK police officers:

  • Police Officers who have the power to make arrests
  • Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), who work as a link between people living in Sheffield and the Police.

You can contact the Police in an emergency by dialling 999.  If you want to report something to the Police that is not an emergency, you should telephone the Police on 101.  This is a confidential 24-hour number that you can use to get advice and information if you are having problems with any of the following:

  • Vandalism and graffiti
  • Noise nuisance
  • Threatening and abusive behaviour
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Dumping and fly-tipping
  • Drunk and rowdy crowds
  • Drug related and anti-social behaviour
  • Broken street lighting

If you want to report a crime without giving your name to the Police, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 1111.

Support for victims of crime

If you have been a victim of crime and you would like to talk to someone other than the Police about it, you can contact Victim Support on +44 114 275 8411.  The University also has a list of contact details of other support agencies in Sheffield.

Rights and responsibilities in the UK

During your stay here, you have the right to:

  • be treated fairly and lawfully regardless of your race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation or any disability; and
  • practise your own religion - similarly, you are expected to show respect for people of other faiths.

It is your responsibility to:

  • obey the law; and
  • care for your children (for example, children under the age of 16 must always be supervised by an adult and they must go to school if they are aged between five and 16)

Legal matters

Many laws in the UK are based on common sense and will be the same as in your home country.  However, some laws might not seem very obvious to you and will be different to those you are used to.  Please be aware that the following scenarios are illegal:

  • Cycling on the pavement
  • An under eighteen year old buying tobacco and alcohol
  • Smoking in bars, cafes, clubs, restaurants, on public transport, in public buildings (including all University buildings).
  • Carrying or using illegal drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, LSD, amphetamines or mephedrone.
  • Carrying any sort of weapon including knives, self-defence CS gas sprays, guns or stun guns
  • Buying property you think is stolen
  • Offering bribes
  • Driving a car without insurance or a valid MOT 

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