Ben HaywardOctober 17th
2019

The University of Bristol is to pay for night-time police patrols in areas around its campus after persistent resident complaints about student behaviour. 

The university has revealed it is paying Avon and Somerset police £25,000 for ‘Operation Beech’, which will include dedicated patrols until 2am on 40 nights spread across peak party periods during the academic year, reports The Guardian.

A police spokesperson said the move was ‘a response to issues of antisocial behaviour reported by residents in areas with a significant Bristol University student population’.

Bristol Paying Police To Target Noisy Students

Worst-affected are the Redland and Cotham districts to the north of the main campus, with residents accusing the university of failing to rein in the behaviour of students renting privately in the areas. 

Speaking to The Guardian, Andrew Waller, who has been living in Redland for 13 years, said the problem has worsened over the last five years as the university has expanded.

“When I moved in I wasn’t aware of any of this sort of stuff. Students didn’t really cause us any problems, Mr Waller said.

“But for some reason in 2013 there was a rash of noisy parties, and that was when I realised there was a problem. Now we get some very large, very loud parties, and they represent the worst extremes.”

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Mr Waller said that one weekend evening he counted 170 people entering a party at a semi-detached house near his home and that one weekend large parties were held on consecutive nights stretching into the early hours of the morning and giving residents little chance of sleep. 

He said: “These are not spontaneous events. They are planned. In some cases the students hire an events company to set up big speakers in their living room, things that would normally be on a stage, and have bouncers and doormen. 

A nightclub or a pub would not be granted a licence to hold these events until 5am in a residential area.”

Mr Waller established a website, the Noise Pages, for residents to report the worst cases, while local community leaders and councillors have been lobbying the university to take more action.

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Professor Sarah Purdy, Bristol University’s pro-vice-chancellor for student experience, said Operation Beech was targeted at areas reporting ‘disproportionate’ levels of noise and disturbance generated by students.

“The university takes very seriously its responsibility to be a good neighbour and manage the impact of our students on the community. Where our students are causing distress to local residents we should contribute to resourcing that management,” said Prof Purdy. 

“So far Operation Beech is doing exactly what we want it to achieve, which is to work positively with our neighbouring communities and pro-actively with our students in being good neighbours.”

Bristol says it also has a community liaison team working with local residents and community groups to help students prepare for moving into private rented accommodation, which includes advising on how to be considerate neighbours.

It said it had received around 230 complaints in the last academic year. While many cases were dealt with by warnings, 10 groups were fined up to £150 a person and 15 households were required to attend ‘impact awareness’ classes.

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