Students across the Midlands are being handed condoms by police with a message to "protect your valuables".

The West Midlands Police initiative aims to crackdown on thefts from the thousands of students studying at the region's universities.

Many will be away from home for the first time and will be bringing a range of electrical equipment with them, including laptops, mobile phones, ipods, computers and hi-fi equipment.

The condoms will be available from student union advice centres and health centres at the University of Birmingham, Aston University, the University of Central England Birmingham (UCE), Coventry University, the University of Warwick, the University of Wolverhampton and Newman College of Higher Education.

They will carry inscriptions on the packaging advising students to "protect your valuables".

Other merchandise being distributed during fresher's week by police include computer screen wipes, car ice scrapers, personal attack alarms, pens, key rings and bottle openers.

Ryan Slaughter, from UCE Birmingham Students' Union, said: "Students are a notoriously difficult group to talk to about crime prevention.

"These condoms are a light-hearted way of getting across a serious message, that they should protect all their valuables, whether it be their health or their property, while they enjoy their time at university."

Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said: "We are not only committed to catching criminals and driving crime down across the West Midlands, we are also committed to helping prevent people from becoming victims.

"Sometimes getting this message across demands innovation and creativity and the condoms are an example of this."

Meanwhile, taxi drivers could also be handing out condoms in Birmingham as part of a Safe Ride Home scheme.

American condom brand Trojan is in talks with taxi companies in the city over plans to extend an initiative in Sussex which saw thousands of taxi drivers hand out condoms.