Image: Geograph / Peter Facey

University of Portsmouth students face expulsion following lockdown party

25 students from the University of Portsmouth face expulsion after hosting a party during lockdown.

Hampshire police were called to Catherine House halls on Stanhope Road, Portsmouth at approximately 2:50am on 29 January after music was heard coming from a room. 

The students were given £200 fixed penalty notices and are now facing expulsion from their university. 

Professor Graham Galbraith, vice-chancellor of the university, stated that the behaviour “will not be tolerated”. 

“Their actions undermine the positive actions of the majority of students who are, for their own and others’ health and safety, abiding by the very clear rules. 

“In addition to fines issued by the police, they now face the prospect of permanent exclusion from the university,” the professor added. 

Inspector Marcus Kennedy, of Hampshire police, said: “The people attending this party were putting themselves and their loved ones at risk from the virus.

“It’s actions like this that place increased and unnecessary pressure on the NHS.”

The incident occurred hours before the new rules came into place, permitting officers to issue £800 fines to groups with over 15 people. 

This past year has highlighted the importance of continued collaboration as we all seek to channel our research, our teaching and our institutional operations towards a more sustainable future

– Professor Graham Galbraith

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the changes on 21 January, which will see the penalty double after each offence, up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offenders. 

Since the changes have come in force, there have been further illegal gatherings involving university students. 

Lancashire Police caught a party in progress at about 2:45am on 30 January. Nine partygoers were issued the £800 fixed penalty notices and the organiser was fined £10,000.

In the officers’ body camera footage, the organiser can be heard saying: “How do you expect a 20-year-old girl to pay £10,000 for this?” 

The students, believed to be studying at Edge Hill University, told the officers that they “were bored and wanted some fun”.

A representative from Edge Hill University said: “We are fully cooperating and working and we will be taking appropriate action in line with our disciplinary procedures. 

“This is completely unacceptable behaviour and we will be taking appropriate action in line with our disciplinary procedures.

“We cannot pre-empt the outcome of these investigations or predict any final sanctions that might be imposed; however, the university is able to exclude students in the most serious cases.”

Paddy Tipping, the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, has urged for students to “go home” and continue remote learning from their permanent residences. This comes after a rise in illegal house parties in Nottingham.

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