Police have been given keys to access and patrol a UoB city centre hall
‘It’s unnecessarily scary when it was only a few people who broke the rules’
Avon and Somerset Police have been provided keys to access the Dean Street Works student hall of residence as part of police patrols to offer a more “proactive, reassuring, approach” to students.
However, students told The Bristol Tab that police often had no justification or reason to be present, and that they felt “unsettled” and “unnecessarily” scared.
Bristol Uni says that police patrols are limited to “communal areas” and that “they are not permitted to enter flats or private spaces unless they are investigating a Covid breach”.
This was a joint decision made by Bristol Uni and the property owners.
Alex, a first year student at Dean Street Works, said: “Even if they’re not walking into the flats, it’s still very unsettling to run into the police while you go to do your laundry.
“How is it my responsibility that someone who I don’t even know broke the rules and now there’s police patrolling my building?”
Police are usually only allowed to enter “flats or private spaces” if there is an emergency or if there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime, however “investigating a Covid breach” offers the police a broad remit to entering student residences and has raised concerns about the rights to privacy for first year students in halls.
Ruth Day, Bristol SU Student Living Officer, weighed in: “I believe in students’ right to privacy in their own homes and I hope this is upheld across different residences.
“I have been supporting the JCR President with this case and have received confirmation from the university that the Police should not be allowed to enter private spaces.
“I’ll continue to support the JCR and residents of Dean Street Works to make sure their privacy is protected”.
The JCR President of Dean Street Works, Theo West, confirmed to The Bristol Tab that students were not consulted or told police had been given a key to patrol their halls of residence and rather were later “unofficially” told of the arrangement by a hall warden.
In a statement to The Bristol Tab, a university spokesperson said: “We recognise that this has been a difficult time for students and our Residential Life and Partnership teams are committed to continue working with the JCR and students at Dean Street works to ensure it is a safe and happy place for all who live and work there.
“This is in line with residence conditions that provide the right to privacy, balanced by the need to ensure illegal activities do not occur.”