Durham University invests £30,000 into policing Covid-19 rules

The service is designed to ensure students are correctly observing local lockdown rules

Durham University has announced it is investing over £30,000 into a new service to support local Covid-19 policing.

The recently set up University Security Community Response Team (CRT) supports Durham Constabulary by engaging with students to ensure they both understand and observe local and national Covid-19 restrictions.

First implemented on Friday 2nd October, the CRT has two active members working between 8.30pm to 4.30am every night. Patrolling CRT members work in student areas of Durham City and support in responding to incidents reported to the police.

Since the incident response element of the CRT role is instigated by local police, those wishing to report violations of lockdown rules, including large gatherings and house parties, are asked to do so via Durham Constabulary. This can be done through the Durham Constabulary online live chat function, or by dialling the 101 non-emergency number.

Two CRT members outside Durham’s Teaching and Learning Centre. Image provided by Durham University.

On the introduction of the new policing service, Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University, said: “We want to do everything possible to be a responsible University; a constructive partner and good neighbour in our City and community.

“We already provide significant financial support for a term-time police presence and Durham County Council’s Neighbourhood Wardens scheme.

“We are very pleased to be adding to these existing commitments by launching the University Security Community Response Team, as part of our ongoing effort to help keep everyone safe.”

The CRT is also designed to draw students’ attention to the Durham University Student Pledge, which has recently been amended to reflect local lockdown restrictions. Failure to follow the Student Pledge can result in disciplinary action, which includes expulsion from the university as its most extreme penalty.

The university’s new discipline procedures were announced in full last week. They use a three part colour coded system, where a first tier “yellow” punishment might include a formal written warning, and a third tier “red” punishment might see a student expelled.

On following local restrictions, Mr Cook said: “The vast majority of our students have responded to the local and national Covid-19 restrictions as responsible citizens and we are proud of them for doing so. However, when a student’s behaviour falls below the standards we would expect, we will take swift and decisive action to protect our students, staff and local community.”

Members of the CRT on duty. Image provided by Durham University.

On the collaboration between the university and Durham Constabulary for the new policing programme, Inspector Jason Mole, from Durham City Police, said: “This is another example of us working with our partners to help keep everyone safe during this pandemic.

“We will continue to engage with the public, explain the regulations and encourage people to act responsibly: if they don’t, we will move to enforcement.”

Amanda Healy, Durham’s Director of Public Health, said: “It is vital that we all follow the current local restrictions and work together to prevent the spread of coronavirus, reduce infection rates and protect the health of everyone in County Durham.

“I appreciate that the measures are challenging but we all have to do our bit to help each other to stay safe by following the latest regional rules and public health guidance. Washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering and social distancing all help to reduce the further spread of the virus and save lives.”

The Durham University Student Pledge can be found here.

Information on Covid-19 cases at Durham University can be found here.