Since mid-September 2014, Nottingham Trent University has contributed approximately £10,000 a year towards a collaboration which has resulted in two officers (normally Community Protection Officers – CPOs – or Police Community Support Officers – PCSOs) patrolling an area around the university’s city centre buildings and residences bounded by Goldsmith Street, South/North Sherwood Street and Peel Street.

The patrols primarily operate during university term times, but tend to begin a week or so before the beginning of each term, and continue for a week or so after the end of each term. They are scheduled to take place each Wednesday night/Thursday morning and Saturday night/Sunday morning, these times having been identified by the Police as being the busiest in terms of student-related disturbances. These are also the two busiest nights for student entertainment events in the city centre.

The role and purpose of the officers is to provide early and pre-emptive intervention, as a way of minimising further disturbance that would otherwise have a detrimental impact on the local community, as well as placing extra demands in terms of formal involvement by the Police. By and large, the officers’ interactions with students has been through informal words of advice which have not been documented recorded. However, anti-social behaviour for the Victoria Centre beat, which includes the NTU patrol area, has reduced by 23% in comparison to that pre-September 2014. Police and related agencies have confirmed that perceptions of student-related noise and disturbance in the area have shown that issues have been reduced.

The CPOs have also worked closely with late-night catering outlets, more rigorously enforcing littering issues in the areas immediately surrounding their premises, and this has also had a positive impact on the physical environment of the neighbourhood.

The CPOs and PCSOs work closely with NTU’s central security, which has overall responsibility for the university’s buildings and students, and also with the individual duty staff who are located at each NTU residence in the area. When incidents happen in the vicinity where the patrol is operating, CPOs also provide assistance to UPP and NTU security teams, meaning a quicker and more dedicated response than might otherwise be the case. This response has meant that immediate assistance has been given in emergency situations, such as when students have sustained serious injury, meaning that they have benefitted from the swift first aid intervention from these officers.

The presence of Community Protection and Police Community officers has helped to produce a significant reduction in the number of complaints and issues reported to the university by members of the public in the patrol area.

Prior to September 2014, NTU received an average of 17 complaints relating to noise, littering and other anti-social behaviour involving students each year from members of the public in the patrol area. Since the beginning of the scheme and the maintenance of the highly-visible and pro-active presence of the officers, the university has reported receiving 13 complaints in the academic year 2014 to 2015, and 8 complaints in the same period 2015 to 2016.

The work that NTU and Community Protection have been doing has helped to cement a positive partnership between the Police, Community Protection and the university, and has allowed more effective and mutually beneficial sharing of information regarding other issues and intelligence in the area.

Approval has been given for the scheme to continue in its present form for 2016 to 2017. Senior management at NTU and the Police have expressed their support for the investment and partnership that the scheme delivers.

In the context of an extremely challenging landscape in terms of Police and Council resources, it is clear that this has been a notably successful example of close partnership working, and the value of linking collaboratively to identify effective solutions to shared issues.

In addition to this exemplary scheme, it is as well to mention Nottingham Trent’s support of the Street Pastors scheme.

In early 2016, NTU led a number of private accommodation provides in donating a financial contribution to the work of the Street Pastors, based at the Malt Cross. This was partly in response to concern about the on-going budgetary viability of the scheme, but also because NTU recognise the Street Pastors’ value to the university and its students. Since then, the Street Pastors scheme has continued to grow. This year, for the first time, groups of NTU Residence Assistants will be joining the Street Pastors teams as part of their activity.

Mark Simmonds, NTU’s Student Community Liaison Manager, says: ‘This is now an explicit, core part of the Residence Assistant role, and I believe it will provide an additional dimension of understanding and awareness to assist them in their support duties in halls. I envisage that NTU’s partnership with the Street Pastors will continue to thrive in the months and years to come.’

Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Mark Simmonds for providing the information for this article. We would also like to put on record our good wishes to him and his family as they embark on a new adventure. In Part II of the 2010-2012 NAG magazine, Mark wrote about his appointment to the new post of Student Community Liaison Manager. With this in mind, we prefaced the NTU chapter with a quotation, attributed to Aeschylus, which is as appropriate now as it was then:  I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship’.