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University funds new team to support local Covid-19 policing
(14 October 2020)
We want to do everything we can to be a responsible University and a good neighbour in Durham. So we’re pleased to announce a new University team to support local Covid-19 policing.
Introducing the University Security Community Response Team (CRT)
The CRT is supporting Durham Constabulary by engaging with our students, explaining to them the current local and national Covid-19 restrictions, and encouraging them to observe these.
Two members of the CRT are now available from 8.30pm to 4.30am, seven nights a week.
What does the CRT do?
Pro-active patrols of student areas of the City and support in responding to incidents reported to the police.
The latter service is instigated through the police, so if you observe potential Covid-19 breaches, including large gatherings and house parties, please continue to report them via the Durham Constabulary website live chat function or by calling the 101 non-emergency number.
When responding to an incident, the CRT seek constructive engagement with students and offer advice on observing local and national Covid-19 restrictions.
They also draw attention to our Student Pledge, which we’ve updated to reflect Covid-19 guidelines and responsibilities. This is linked to our formal disciplinary process, which carries expulsion from the University as its most extreme penalty.
Most of our students have responded to the Covid-19 restrictions as responsible citizens and we’re proud of them for doing so. But 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.
‘Working together to help keep everyone safe’
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.”
Alan Doig, the Vice-Chair of the City of Durham Parish Council, said he welcomed the initiative and its link to the firm and decisive disciplinary action that could follow. He said the initiative will enhance the wider work being undertaken to address noise, anti-social behaviour and Covid-related breaches. He urged everyone to use 101 in support of this initiative and also to use the ‘Pinpoint’ map on the Parish Council’s website which was developed in partnership with Durham Students Union as a means of mapping these issues.
Part of our Covid-19 disciplinary setup
The CRT is part of a new ‘yellow, amber, red’ Covid-19 disciplinary setup for us.
In a first instance of a suspected Covid-19 breach, we are seeking to speak with those involved to explain the risks of their behaviour, encourage them to observe Covid-19 legislation and guidance and remind them of the Student Pledge.
If serious and intentional breaches are identified and this ‘engage, explain and encourage’ approach has not resolved the situation, a formal disciplinary process will commence.
For a first, low level breach of regulations, a yellow warning will be issued by the student’s College. For a second or more serious breach, an amber warning will be issued – a formal warning will be added to the student’s record and this may be accompanied by further sanctions including a fine of up to £500 or community service of up to 75 hours.
For a further breach or where serious aggravating factors are identified, a red warning will follow, with sanctions including permanent exclusion from the University.
Enhancing our community commitment
We know that with Covid-19 cases rising and local restrictions in place, it is a worrying time for many.
We are working very closely with Durham County Council’s Public Health Team and other partners to ensure our planning is co-ordinated. And we’re in regular contact with City residents and representatives to share our progress and receive feedback, including through our Covid-19 Community Forum which meets fortnightly.
We’re investing over £30,000 in the CRT, on top of the existing funding we provide for a term-time police presence and Durham County Council’s Neighbourhood Wardens scheme.
The service began on Friday 2 October.