Uni-funded police will be patrolling for Bristol house parties as of tonight
Today marks the return of the uni’s ongoing patrol service, Operation Beech
Operation Beech, the university-funded police effort, will be patrolling for Bristol house parties starting tonight.
After what the university calls “a successful run” in the last academic year – in which not a single student was fined – patrols will return to student-heavy areas responding to reports from neighbours and monitoring for parties.
The university plan to spend £15k in TB1 alone, with 22 patrols planned between now and November.
Operation Beech will return on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, starting tonight, operating between 8pm and 2am.
This university-funded crack down on disturbances caused by students has had a mixed reception, with students not pleased, but local residents hailing the return as “good news”.
The Noise Pages, a website created by local resident Andrew Waller to monitor noise created by students, has already documented numerous instances of loud house parties, and has said that students could end up being evicted if partying continues as a result of clauses in tenancy agreements.
The university said in a statement that there will be an additional “focus” on ensuring that social distancing guidelines are followed, with Waller encouraging residents to mention the number of attendees at parties when contacting Operation Beech.
Director of Student Life and Wellbeing, Clare Slater, told ITV: “We would start at a low level to make sure the students understand the impact of their behaviour. If that behaviour is continuing then we would have to escalate and we would follow through with our disciplinary procedures.”
Breaches of Covid regulations on university premises or “any other site associated with the university”, such as private flats, are classed as “action likely to cause injury or impair safety” in the Student Disciplinary Regulations, which could result in fines of up to £800, or even expulsion from the university.
However, the cost of this crackdown is notable, with the university spending £15k in TB1 alone. Last academic year not a single student was fined, despite the university spending £25k, raising questions about the necessity of Operation Beech.
A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “Following a successful run last year, the University will be funding Operation Beech again this term.
“Before it was paused before lockdown in March, Operation Beech was doing exactly what we wanted it to achieve which is to work positively with our neighbouring communities, and pro-actively with our students in being good neighbours. Police reported that students responded politely and positively when approached.
“The University takes very seriously its responsibility to be a good neighbour and manage the impact of our students on the community. We acknowledge that public services are stretched, so where our students are causing distress to local residents, we should contribute to resourcing that management.
“Specifics on how this year’s Operation Beech will work are still being discussed but there will be an additional focus this year on responding to concerns raised about students not adhering to social distancing regulations and police will offer advice to anyone not following the current Government guidelines which will then be followed up by the University. We have initially arranged 22 patrols between now and November at an approximate cost of £15,000.
“We acknowledge that seeing groups of more than six students together could cause concern but we are asking local residents to be aware that many of our students live in households of more than six and it may look like they’re breaking the rules when in fact they are not.
“Our Community Liaison Team continue to work closely with local resident and community groups and actively support our students to prepare for the transition into private rented accommodation, regularly providing them with information on community living, including how to be considerate neighbours.”
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