University of Bristol increases security patrols as pictures emerge of huddled students ignoring social distancing

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‘I just want to study and be able to go home to my family for Christmas’

Pictures have emerged of groups of students gathering outside halls of accommodation and ignoring social distancing rules.

The images, sent to BristolLive, show students congregating outside different block of flats in Hiatt Baker, in Stoke Bishop, and police is seen in attendance in one of the pictures.

This is the same student halls where a block of flats was put into lockdown earlier this month due to the virus spreading there.

The University of Bristol has described the behaviour as unacceptable and said they upped security patrols around residences so they can act quickly.

A student living at the halls said students weren’t being honest or responsible during the coronavirus outbreak.

They wrote: “We have had many Covid positive cases in our block, we were told to isolate and many didn’t; they even went to huge parties at other blocks without a care in the world.

“Security staff even caught some people escaping out of the lower windows.

“We were delivered food boxes but they were vandalised by other students, with food being thrown around the campus.”

And added: “It’s all been very disturbing.

“I have seen the porters attend our flat because of people forgetting keys and being locked out several times a night, which is shocking as they shouldn’t even be out.”

The student – who sent in the pictures, saying they were of parties – said they had seen police attend the halls to trip to stop the parties.

“But no one cares, they think it’s all one big laugh, they added. “I just want to study and be able to go home to my family for Christmas but the attitudes of others is selfish.”

Concerns have previously been raised raised about parties in student halls and one student has claimed there were parties of up to 40 people during freshers week – saying ‘no-one is really trying to be careful’.

And another student said parties were the reason why covid-19 cases rose in a city centre student hall which ended up having to go into lockdown.

The University of Bristol has issued 42 fines to students so far this month for breaking coronavirus rules around gatherings.

A spokesman for the University said: “This kind of behaviour is unacceptable but the majority of our students are following the rules and continue to behave responsibly.

“We have upped security patrols around residences so we can act quickly as soon as we receive reports of gatherings that break social distancing or self-isolation rules

“We investigate and follow up complaints and, if appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken.

“We are very sorry that this student has witnessed these incidents and would ask that they get in touch with us so we can discuss further.”

In recent weeks, Stoke Bishop has been one of the neighbourhoods in Bristol to have recorded the most positive coronavirus tests.

Bristol has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in areas with high student populations as the University of Bristol has been dealing with a coronavirus outbreak among its students since the beginning of October, which has seen more than 1,150 students test positive so far.

Avon and Somerset Police said officers have recorded two callouts to Hiatt Baker Hall on Parrys Lane since September 1 in relation to covid-19 breaches.

On both occasions, words of advice were given and no fines were issued.

Bristol University beat manager Sian Harris said it needs to be everyone’s priority to help drive these numbers down.

She said: “I want to thank the vast majority for sticking to the rules and following the guidance in place to limit the spread of the virus.

“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to support students in following the regulations by engaging with them, explaining the law and encouraging them to do the right thing.

“We will continue this approach and provide an opportunity to disperse or accept a warning, but we are seven months into this pandemic now and where people are knowingly breaching the regulations there to protect us all, we will move more quickly to enforcement by issuing a fine.”

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