By Louie Bell, Investigations Correspondent
Responses to an unofficial survey have revealed serious instances of alleged misconduct from University of Bristol security staff.
Reports suggested that the security staff were entering halls of residence whilst residents were sleeping, demanding to see proof that the residents lived in the flat.
One student in Hiatt Baker Hall alleges being ‘hit in the head by a security guard who refused to give me his name.’
Other students in Manor Hall report being needlessly threatened with fines of up to £250, with another suggesting a student was fined £100 for smoking outside their flat.
The student alleges that the security guard justified this by saying it was ‘to make an example of him.’
One student reported that the security staff were a ‘very intimidating and threatening presence even to students not breaking the rules.’
Security staff are alleged to have been ‘aggressive and forceful’ when entering flats in which all of the students were in self-isolation and failing to socially distance.
On the other hand, other responses indicated that staff were absent most of the night, meaning that ‘a multitude of parties went unchecked and continued into the early hours of the morning.’
The SU confirmed that the information is not from an official report and it is unclear where or how the survey was distributed.
The survey also features questions from students who want to know more about the limits to what security staff can do.
Questions such as ‘What are they allowed to do, exactly and specifically?’ and ‘How much privacy do we get?’ suggest a desire for greater transparency surrounding the powers and instructions given to security staff in Halls of residences, notably during the quarantine periods.
Around half of the responses to the survey were in relation to properties owned and managed by third-party companies that The University of Bristol partners with. These partners employ their own security staff and are not directly related to the University of Bristol.
Security staff are alleged to have been ‘aggressive and forceful’
The University of Bristol confirmed that only one official complaint to the University has so far been submitted, which was resolved quickly. None of the responses to the survey have therefore been submitted as official complaints.
A University of Bristol spokesperson said: ‘Our Security Services team is here to keep all students and staff safe across our campuses and residences 24/7 – 365 days a year.
‘Since the start of the pandemic this has never been more important, and the team have been working incredibly hard in what are sometimes very difficult and challenging circumstances.
‘The list of allegations that have been shared with us is extremely concerning. We take all complaints seriously and will always investigate and follow up if required. We encourage the complainants to get in touch so we can investigate using the Student Complaints Procedure.
‘We are actively working with the Students’ Union to find ways to communicate to students about the role of Security Services and how they are here to protect and support them.
None of the responses to the survey have been submitted as official complaints
‘This will also include more information about what Security can and cannot do, how they work in residences and what action they can take if students are found to be breaking the rules.
‘We have been clear about the behaviours we expect from our community during this time. Security services play an important role in ensuring students adhere to these expectations and follow our COVID-19 safety measures and government regulations.
‘The vast majority of our students have behaved impeccably since they returned to campus and have followed the rules around social-distancing and keeping to their living circles, but there have been a number of incidents that have required support from Security Services when concerns around safety or behaviours have been raised by other students or the local community.
‘In these circumstances, Security will attend and will always try to engage, explain and encourage students to follow our rules and regulations before any further action is taken.
‘If necessary, Security will work with colleagues from Residential Life to impose fines for breaches under student disciplinary regulations. Students can appeal against these penalties and complain about any aspect of university life by using the Student Complaints Procedure.’
Featured Image - Epigram / Lucy O' Neill
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