COVID-19 WARNINGS & FINES:
Freedom of Information Request Reveals Nottingham Trent University Fines and Warnings to Students
Matt Jarram, Senior Digital Reporter and Crime Correspondent, writing in the Nottingham Post one Tuesday 2 March 2021 reported that, following a Freedom of Information request, NTU has revealed that it has warned more than 400 of its students and given more than £60,000 in fines. Nottingham University is yet to respond to an identical request. Residents reaction is that the universities are not doing enough and the fines are not working.
Nottingham Trent University hands out more than £60,000 in Covid fines to rule-breaking students
But residents feel not enough is being done
More than 400 students have been handed Covid-19 warnings by Nottingham Trent University and fined more than £60,000.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed the measures the university has taken so far over those who have held illegal parties and gatherings during the pandemic.
Eight students have been suspended from their courses, but there have been no permanent expulsions.
Lenton residents, living in the most populated student area in the city, said that having such a small number of students suspended does not send out a hard enough message.
The University of Nottingham has not yet divulged its figures in response to an identical request for information.
Restless residents are also worried the area is "heaving" and fear that this weekend will see a rise in student parties as more arrive back in the city.
Some believe more suspensions should be given as fines are not a deterrent and most will just accept the risk.
Lorry driver Tony Sandhu, 61, said he has made 13 calls to the police and the university about one house in Douglas Road during the pandemic.
Mr Sandhu, who has lived in the area for 50 years, said he dreads coming home from work in the evening and is worried his livelihood is being affected by sleepless nights.
He said: "The universities are not doing enough. They are not taking responsibility for the anti-social behaviour still going on. The parties are still going on and there is no distancing.
"They are ignorant. Eight suspensions are just not enough. We know at least 40 to 50 reports where the majority of those are re-offenders.
For one house alone, there have been 13 calls to police.
"The universities told us that re-offenders would be excluded in a meeting but they have not done this. It is just a nightmare.
"One house in Douglas Road, there were 12 to 15 sat in the garden and smoking weed (the other night). I have had tears in my eyes because I have not had a rest.
"There have been nights where I've had two to three hours sleep. I am just not looking forward to this weekend.
"Sometimes I don't want to go home - back to my house - because I know what I am going to have to put up with in the evening and early hours of the morning.
"The fines are not working at all. There are three houses adjacent to me and five addresses near Douglas Road where we have called six or seven times.
"They have had warning after warning. It is not fair on our neighbourhood."
Nottinghamshire Live asked for the amount of enforcement action taken by Nottingham Trent University from September 11 - when the first £10,000 fine was handed out by police for a gathering of around 50 people at a house in Harlaxton Drive.
Police said only one person has paid the £10,000 fine so far.
A special Covid police team has been launched from Radford Road police station to respond to any reports of illegal gatherings.
Nottingham Trent University said the data relates to all Covid-related disciplinary action taken over the autumn term.
The university said 1,031 disciplinary actions were taken during that time.
This resulted in 443 formal warnings placed on a student’s record and 580 fines imposed.
Over this same period, eight students have been suspended from the university pending investigations into alleged breaches of the Student Code of Behaviour.
There were no expulsions.
NTU said it has issued fines to the value of £60,135 and a further £27,780 are suspended, to be enforced in the event of a further breach.
Funds received from fines are added to the student hardship fund to directly support those who need it most.
Virgina Rochester, secretary of the Lenton Drives and Neighbours Residents' Association, said the money should be used to fund university wardens to patrol these party areas.
Mrs Rochester lives in Harrington Drive - in a home where two people work and her teenage children are studying during the day.
She said: "The university has not put any investment into the areas that students have trashed. That money should go on policing the issue with community wardens.
"If people are continuing to party and continue to receive the fines it shows it is not working.
"It is just a token of privilege - the privileged people who have the money can carry on.
"They don't get they are living as part of a wider community and not on an extended campus.
"Some are very angry and in a defiant way think they can do what they want because they have had a miserable year at university.
"The university's message is 'it is a tiny minority.'
"It is almost like saying 'it does not matter.' It might be a minority but it affects the people living next to that minority."
Care worker Lissie Hollis, 26, lives just off Derby Road and was a former University of Nottingham student who decided to stay in the area.
But she now wants to move out due to the behaviour of students during this recent lockdown.
She said: "I have noticed a lot have come back and they have not got a lot to do. Lads near me have climbed on the roof and played their music.
"I do think both universities need to take more responsibility.
"They have got security on campus but nothing out in these areas where students are living.
"I have to sleep with a head mask on.
"I could not even open a window to get some air (the other night). The noise is every night.
"They would usually go to the nightclubs to let off some steam.
"We have some lads on the street that are howling and have a firepit outside. They are letting off that steam in their gardens.
"I am trying to move house before June 21 because I am terrified about what they are going to be doing."
A spokesman for Nottingham Trent University said: "We have been clear to our students throughout this pandemic that any breach of government regulations introduced to help stop the spread of Covid-19 would result in investigation and possible action under our Student Code of Behaviour in addition to any police fine.
"Where alleged breaches of regulations are brought to our attention, we act swiftly. The majority of our 35,000 students willingly comply.
"NTU has also initiated a restorative justice programme. Students who are found to have breached the Student Code of Behaviour are requested to undertake community service.
"To date, eight students have been asked to undertake community service. Over Autumn Term 20/21 our repeat offending rate remained low.
"We are confident that our approach works as a deterrent and a reminder of the important role students play in protecting our local community.