Covid Patrol Police Accused of Harassing University Students

Students at several UK universities have accused police officers of invading their privacy when checking for breaches of Covid rules. Universities have been complicit in this harassment, granting officers access to halls of residence, some have claimed. The Guardian has the story.

Students at several UK campuses have accused their universities of granting police officers access to halls of residence to check for breaches of coronavirus rules, with some complaints of officers entering accommodation in the middle of the night.

Students at Sheffield and Manchester who spoke to the Guardian described regular police patrols and widespread use of fines of up to £800 as universities clamp down on the mixing of households to avoid repeating the major coronavirus outbreaks that occurred in autumn now that students are returning for the spring term.

Students at Sheffield and Manchester say they believe that in some instances police officers may have received keys from university security to enter flats unannounced and check that students were not socialising with their neighbours. The universities have denied this.

One first-year student living in Froggatt Halls, which is run by the University of Sheffield, said that police have been patrolling the area in which several halls of residence are located every weekend, with her flat visited three times in the last month.

“The first time was at 1.30am and I was in bed. We had left our door on the latch, so the police officer came in and was quite aggressive. Across the hall I could see another police officer talking to a girl alone in her flat, asking how many people lived there,” she said. “It’s an invasion of privacy.”

A student at the University of Leeds said the police had been given access to his accommodation block at around 4pm one day in mid-February, and knocked when he was watching TV with his housemates. “He asked who was in there, and was quite forceful. He came into the kitchen and said we were all taking the piss and the university had called them in to tell us it’s our last chance.”

A student rent strike group at the University of Sussex tweeted that students should video police entering their flats on their phones and take down badge numbers, as well as asking the reasons for their entry, after the group received a number of reports of heavy-handed policing.

Last week, students at the University of Manchester passed a vote of no confidence in its Vice-Chancellor amid criticism of the institution’s handling of Covid, which included the erection of security fences around students’ halls.

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