Students caught on video running from police after party could face exclusion

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Students who took part in an “unacceptable” party outside a block of halls of residence at the University of Portsmouth could face disciplinary action and police fines, the vice-chancellor has warned.

Officers are seen in a video posted on social media pulling up in vehicles outside the Margaret Rule Halls in Isambard Brunel Road in the Hampshire city in the early hours of Friday, causing the revellers to disperse and run off.

Professor Graham Galbraith, vice-chancellor, University of Portsmouth, said that the behaviour of the students was “unacceptable” and any found to have broken the law could be penalised and face disciplinary action.

He said: “I am angry and disappointed that this has happened.

“I know that the vast majority of students are complying with Covid laws, acting responsibly and doing their bit to keep themselves, each other and the community safe.

“Such behaviour is unacceptable and I want to be clear that any student found to have broken the laws in place will face swift disciplinary action by the university as well as any fines that may be issued by the police.”

A Hampshire police spokesman said: “Police were initially called at 12.46am on Friday October 23 following a report that a large group of people were attending a party at Margaret Rule Halls, in Isambard Brunel Road.

“Officers attended and saw a group of around 50 people in the street, who then dispersed.

“Officers were called back to the same area at around 2.47am, following reports that around 40 people having a party in the street and not observing social distancing.

“A Section 34 dispersal order was imposed and as officers arrived, the majority of those attending ran from the scene.

“A man who initially refused to leave the area was asked to leave by officers.

“Officers are now reviewing the evidence, including body-worn video footage, and are working with the University of Portsmouth to identify those who attended.

“The organiser of the party has been identified and officers and the university are considering what formal action will be taken.”

Inspector Marcus Kennedy said: “It is frustrating then that we have had to deal with such a clear breach of the current restrictions.

“Restrictions on large gatherings have been in place for some time, so there is no excuse for this type of behaviour.”

A University of Portsmouth spokeswoman said: “This behaviour by students is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“Students are expected to take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of the community by adhering to the University’s student contract and code of student behaviour, safety measures put in place, and by following government guidelines on social gatherings.

“Any Portsmouth students found to have broken the law will face penalties that can include permanent exclusion from the University alongside any action taken by the police.”

Portsmouth saw 296 new cases of Covid-19 in the seven days to October 18 at a rate of 137.7 per 100,000 people.

This has increased from 225 cases in the week up to October 11 at a rate of 104.7 per 100,000 people.

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