New patrols are taking to the streets in Durham to make sure that the city's university students are following the latest Covid-19 restrictions.
The University has invested £30,000 in the Security Community Response Team (CRT) to support local coronavirus policing.
Working with Durham Police, the CRT will engage with students, explain to them the current local and national restrictions and encourage them to observe them.
The new service began on Friday 2nd October and two members of the CRT are available from 8.30pm to 4.30am, seven nights a week.
Durham University which has 20,000 students, has recorded 251 cases of coronavirus among students since the start of term, with five staff members testing positive.
The new patrols which aim to keep these numbers down will be active in the student areas of the City and support in responding to incidents reported to the police.
Anyone observing potential Covid-19 breaches, including large gatherings and house parties, are being encouraged to continue to report them via the Durham Constabulary website live chat function or by calling the 101 non-emergency number.
Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University, said:
We want to do everything possible to be a responsible University; a constructive partner and good neighbour in our City and community.
Mr Cook added: “We already provide significant financial support for a term-time police presence and Durham County Council’s Neighbourhood Wardens scheme.
“We are very pleased to be adding to these existing commitments by launching the University Security Community Response Team, as part of our ongoing effort to help keep everyone safe.”
Students who do not follow the University's strict Covid-19 guidelines could face disciplinary proceedings, which can lead to them being excluded from the University as its most extreme penalty.
Mr Cook said: “The vast majority of our students have responded to the local and national Covid-19 restrictions as responsible citizens and we are proud of them for doing so. However, 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.”
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."