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Durham University

Covid-19 Response

Covid-19 Breaches

All our students have made a commitment during the global pandemic to themselves, their peers and the wider community under our Student Pledge.

The vast majority have responded to the local and national Covid-19 restrictions as responsible citizens and we are proud of them for doing so.

We know that this is a worrying time for many, with Covid-19 cases rising and national restrictions in place, so where a student’s behaviour falls below the standard we would expect, we will take swift and decisive action.

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. Members of this forum have helped develop the information on these pages to give a broader understanding of what the University does to support compliance in the communities where our students live, work and study.

If you observe potential Covid-19 breaches, including large gatherings and house parties, please report them via the Durham Constabulary website live chat function or by calling the 101 non-emergency number.

Out of term time, or between the hours of 3.30am and 9.30pm during term time, reports are picked up by Police University Liaison. A usual response will involve a visit to the location either at the time of the incident or very shortly thereafter. Attendances are usually recorded on body camera.

Covid-19 breaches are then reported to the University and we take appropriate additional action from there. Our action is always in addition to what the Police decide to do in line with current regulations and enforcement powers – it is never a substitute for this.

If you make a call to 101 during term time and between the hours of 9.30pm and 3.30am, 101 call handlers will contact the University Security Community Response Team who will attend the location within 30 minutes of receiving the report. Attendances are usually recorded on body camera.

The team make a formal report to our Covid-19 Breach Coordinator who then works with Colleges and Police University Liaison to ensure appropriate action is taken in line with our disciplinary procedures.

Yes, you can ask Police University Liaison for feedback; we would advise that you provide contact details at the time of making your report to 101 to facilitate this.

You should always be able to get through to 101 however we do advise that the service is in high demand and sometimes you may have to wait to get through.

Depending on the time of your report, you could consider contacting the Police through their live chat.

If you experience any problems using the 101 or live chat service please raise this with the Police.

We do need the local community to report suspected breaches but we also have 4 dedicated zones which the Community Response Team patrol on a regular basis each shift.

The zones are:

Zone 1 – Whinney Hill/Elvet

Zone 2 – South Road/Merryoaks/Neville’s Cross

Zone 3 – Viaduct/Crossgate/Highgate/Sidegate

Zone 4 – Bailey/Claypath/Gilesgate

We work with our partners to identify specific locations for patrols but we are happy to consider local intelligence. Please send suggestions through to covid.report@durham.ac.uk so they can be considered by the lead officers.

This term, the team will be working 7 days a week between 9.30pm and 3.30am.

They usually complete two patrols per zone per night and may stop on these patrols if they come across an incident. They also respond to 101 reports, visiting the property in question and attempting to engage with the students, explain the situation and encourage them to follow the rules.

During all stops the team hand out printed materials to the students they engage with.

If the team are not visiting a property, they are out patrolling while an office-based shift leader monitors 101 emails and dispatches the team accordingly – the target response time is 30 minutes.

The team record everything they do on set paperwork and send it to a dedicated email address at the University. This record includes separate sheets for what happens if they stop while on patrol and what happens at each property visit prompted by a 101 report – both types of record include where, when, what conversation was had with students, documents handed out and the names, DOBs and Colleges of students present.

We have communicated our approach widely internally and externally, including through local media.

A position statement remains on our coronavirus pages:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/coronavirus/notices/

We have communicated to all students directly in our regular coronavirus email updates:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/coronavirus/Allstudentemail12-10-20.pdf

https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/coronavirus/AllUGandPGTstudentemail19.10.20.pdf

These pages were also developed with the help of local community members who are involved in our Covid-19 Community Forum, alongside sources on our webpages and community updates:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/community/updates/?itemno=42817

https://www.dur.ac.uk/coronavirus/residents/

In the first instance of a suspected Covid-19 breach, we will seek 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 their commitment to themselves, their peers and the wider community made under our Student Pledge.

If serious and intentional breaches are identified and this ‘engage, explain and encourage’ approach has not resolved the situation, we will apply our formal disciplinary process, using a graded ‘yellow, amber, red’ response system.

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.

Though every case is judged on its merits, there are several contributing factors which tend to lead to an amber warning being issued or recommended. These are:

  • the potential number of other members of the community put at risk by the actions of the student;
  • repeated failure to follow the Covid-19 regulations and / or University rules;
  • having reached the stage of receiving a fine from the Police for breaches;
  • playing an instrumental role in organising a gathering;
  • wasting Police time.

The Community Response Team’s role in our wider work to manage Covid-19 breaches among the University community saw the team secured for the third and final term of the academic year 2020-2021. This brought our additional investment to over £75,000 since October 2020, supporting local policing efforts around compliance with the restrictions.

Throughout the academic year, we reported weekly to the Local Resilience Forum Compliance Cell on the activity of the Community Response Team and on our internal activity around Covid-19 breaches. This helped inform the response in and around Durham City, particularly highlighting hotspots of non-compliance. We added several specific locations to the Community Response Team patrols as a result of local intelligence and working with our partners.

In terms of patrols and visits from 101 calls, the table below shows our monthly performance for the academic year 2020-2021:

Month 

Patrols Completed 

Patrol Stops 

Visits to a property 

Revisits

Suspected Breaches passed to Police University Liaison

TOTALS

1576

53

297

23

78

Jul 21

32

5

5

1

4

Jun 21

231

23

118

8

18

May 21

241

2

18

0

6

Apr 21

64

0

2

0

0

Mar 21

152

1

19

4

1

Feb 21

217

3

30

8

10

Jan 21

178

8

30

2

11

Dec 20

80

1

9

-**

1

Nov 20 

221

10

36

-**

19 

Oct 20 

160 

-* 

30 

-**

8 

* Patrol stops were added as a separate category from November so there are no reports for October.

** Revisits were introduced on 25/01/2021 for properties where the CRT have been unable to engage with any residents on their first visit.

Our internal action around breaches among the University community has seen:

  • action at a Yellow warning level 579 times;
  • action at an Amber warning level 528 times.

Amber / Formal warnings have resulted in:

  • 2327 hours of community service being served by students;
  • £14,598 of fines issued;
  • £9000 of suspended fines issued;
  • 19 students having their access to the Wider Student Experience restricted;
  • 57 students being excluded from the University for set periods of time;

Two students have been expelled from the University for serious misconduct related to breaches of Covid-19 regulations.