Local beat police will patrol parts of the Redland and Cotham districts for five evenings and nights at the end of October into early November, as part of a focus on areas affected by student-noise issues.
Sgt Jonathan Scott, recently appointed to oversee several local beats, including Cotham and Clifton Down, said: "We will be visible and engage with students and other people who are out and about."
On key nights, the teams will aim to be in the area until the early hours.
Sgt Scott said he has also asked police "response teams"—mobile patrols—to drive through Cotham and Redland and "to be more visible".
These steps follow a meeting that I and members of the Chandos Neighbourhood Association had with Sgt Scott a week ago to talk about noise issues. We expressed our concern that the problems are getting worse and that, unless action is taken by the police and others, there is a risk community tensions will spiral out of control.
Sgt Scott told us the beat teams had been out knocking on doors of student houses and handing out a letter pointing to the kinds of problems that may be caused by student parties. (In his follow-up email, he says he plans to visit student addresses in Cotham Vale in the next few days.)
CNA was represented at the meeting by Diana Swaine and Fiona McVey. Amongst other things, we suggested it would help to make the door-knocking campaign more effective if the police could follow up by making their presence felt at night, when the problems are actually happening. I also asked if the police cars that patrol Whiteladies Road, our main thoroughfare, could take an occasional detour into Hampton and Chandos Roads.
Comment: This is a very welcome development, even though it will only be of limited duration. We don't yet know how many officers will be on patrol at any one time, or how big an area they will cover, so we need to be realistic in our expectations. Sgt Scott has said by email that he's open to suggestions about particular locations they might target, so I will send him some ideas nearer the time. The locations are mostly fairly obvious, but they potentially include the Chandos area and possibly also the Waverley/Ravenswood and Highbury areas, all of which have concentrations of student housing. If readers have specific suggestions, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will filter and pass them on, rather than have the beat team bombarded with requests that may duplicate each other.
Needless to say, we also hope this is just the start of police getting on the front foot on noise. At our meeting, I again raised questions about the use of various powers under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Over the summer I had an email conversation with a police officer in Durham who told me her force uses specific powers under the 2014 Act to shut down student parties. At every opportunity I ask why we aren't using the same tactics in Bristol. I also raised some questions about the use of the Licensing Act 2003 to target big, organised parties, especially as the letter the police are distributing makes specific mention of this legislation.
Following the recent publicity about the new fines (well, partly new) that University of Bristol has brought in this year, I notice that some students have suggested that party organisers should simply charge an entrance fee to cover any fines that might arise. If we see any sign of that happening, we should make note of it.