Operation Beech, the police noise patrol paid for by the University of Bristol, will continue on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights until late December.
The patrol, usually two officers in a vehicle, is on duty from 8pm until 2am. Residents who are being disturbed by noise they believe is caused by UoB students can contact the officers by sending a text to 07773 816248.
Beech is in its second year, having originally been introduced in September 2019, at the start of academic year 2019-20.
In the current year, officers responded to 73 noise incidents over 18 shifts on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights between 23 September and 31 October, according to PC Sian Harris, the officer assigned to the UoB campus.
The busiest nights were the most recent ones, with 24 calls spread over three shifts. The last of those was Hallowe’en, which is often the noisiest night of the year for student parties. Although Covid-19 restrictions have generally made for an unusually subdued start to term this year, it seems party spirits reasserted themselves at the month’s end.
In the 9 most recent shifts, “officers reported 11 Covid breaches but all involved small groups and those involved left/dispersed immediately,” PC Harris said in an email reply to me.
Fines or Penalties
The police have said that Beech will seek to resolve noise problems by persuasion and advice, and that this is generally successful. However, at the end of each shift, officers file a report to the university, which may follow up with its own disciplinary inquiries. Students may face fines or other penalties if found to be responsible for noise disturbances or Covid breaches.
The total number of calls Beech dealt with over the 9 shifts ending 31 October was 46. Of these, 5 involved street noise, where it’s often difficult to determine who is responsible and the culprits have sometimes disappeared by the time police arrive. Officers were unable to confirm if students were involved in 4 of those 5 cases, according to PC Harris. In addition, 1 call out of the 46 turned out not to be a student address and 1 other involved students from UWE, rather than UoB.
Information about Beech has been disseminated by this website, resident group’s newsletters and the university website at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/accommodation/community/complaints.html.
The website says:
“The University of Bristol is working with Avon & Somerset Police to put on extra police patrols in some student areas this Autumn. Responding to concerns from local residents about the increase in late night parties and students ignoring Covid-19 safety guidelines, the aim is to make sure noise is kept to a minimum to help maintain good student-resident relations.”
It lists six “designated” areas to be covered by Beech, the biggest of which is the Chandos Road area, which has a large student population.
The page adds:
“TEXT 07773 816 248 between 8pm and 2am on Operation Beech dates if experiencing house party or street noise disturbance that is believed to be caused by UoB students. Please include street name and house number and the extra Police patrols will respond on a priority basis.”
In practice, the police have shown some flexibility in which addresses they will attend, so they may respond to complaints from streets near the designated areas.
The following are my own comments, based on past Beech operations:
I suggest you keep your texts short, factual and polite. Might be best to lead with the address where the noise is happening, for example: “6 Acacia Avenue. Loud music and shouting since 10-30pm. I’ve asked them to turn it down but they didn’t. Please can you pay them a visit. John (01234 56789) ”
You may or may not get a text or phone call in return. Don’t bank on it.
Beech aims to deal with problems involving UoB students. Sometimes you may not know for sure if the people involved are UoB or UWE (or even if they’re students). If they are of student age and living in an area where households of young people are typically UoB students, you’re justified in contacting Beech. The officers will clarify who’s who if they attend.
Beech will not necessarily completely close down an event, but if the volume returns to unacceptable levels after officers have left, report it again.
Beech is aimed principally at noise problems but in present circumstances breaches of Covid19 regulations may also be relevant. If you see people arriving at a loud party, it’s worth giving an estimate of numbers in your text.
Timing: Many parties don’t get going until 10pm or later. And the patrol finishes at 2am. That leaves a relatively narrow window. I suggest you contact Beech as soon as there is obvious evidence of a problem. There is no need, in my view, to wait for the 10pm or midnight event cutoffs suggested in UoB’s traditional guidance to students.
Afterwards: If you’ve been disturbed sufficiently to need to contact Beech, I recommend you email a complaint to UoB next day, as you would normally. (The officers will make their own report to the university but that won’t cover what happened before you contacted them—nor what happens after they leave the scene.) Adding feedback about how successfully Beech dealt with the issue may be useful. As usual, it helps me track what’s happening if you cc or bcc your email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a map showing the areas designated for Operation Beech. In practice, in 2019-20 officers responded to any requests from this general area. If they were to get too many texts, it's possible they would prioritise the areas marked. This map was produced by The Noise Pages from UoB information.