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Uni supports extra policing for Newcastle

Operation Oak extended to cover every night of the week

Published on: 17 September 2020

Newcastle and Northumbria Universities are working with Northumbria Police to increase the number of high visibility patrols in residential areas with high student density.

Working with Northumbria Police, the two universities already provide funding of almost £125,000 each year to support community policing, including Operation Oak, and will now fund extra patrols to cover every night from this weekend until the end of the Christmas. These will cover areas such as Jesmond, Sandyford, Heaton, Ouseburn.

The scheme is being extended this year to support the universities and police in reminding everyone of the importance of adhering to the latest Covid-19 restrictions and staying safe.    

Operation Oak has been copied by other cities was initially launched in response to concerns from local residents about the increase in late night weekend parties in an effort to make sure noise was kept to a minimum and to help maintain the good student-resident relations.

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University, said: “The safe return of students to university and to the community is an absolute priority for us. By working with our partners Northumbria University and Northumbria Police to increase the number of Operation Oak patrols we hope to keep students and residents as safe as possible during these difficult times.

Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, said:  “Like all organisations we have been working hard to make our Universities as Covid-19 secure as possible. Every action and measure we have implemented aligns with government guidance and we are confident that we are in a position to respond quickly to public health issues whenever we need to. Our continuing support for Operation Oak reinforces our shared responsibility within the community to keep each other safe and act together against Covid.”

Chief Inspector Steve Wykes, of Northumbria Police, said: “Operation Oak has been an overwhelming success in recent years as we look to keep residents and students safe, and that would not have been possible without the ongoing support of the universities.

“We are once again looking forward to welcoming students into our city, but of course given the global pandemic and the unprecedented situation we are facing, this year will feel very different.

We would ask everyone to make yourself aware of and adhere to the Government’s latest restrictions, and our officers will be carrying out targeted patrols in student communities to engage positively with them and ensure everyone is remaining safe.

“We all have a personal responsibility and an important role to play during this pandemic, and I would thank everyone for their ongoing support and cooperation. Anyone with concerns can speak to an officer on patrol or contact us via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website. In an emergency, always ring 999.”

Safe return of students to Newcastle

Operation Oak, which has been running for several years, is part of a suite of measures being employed by the two universities to support the safe return of students to Newcastle, including physical campus changes, social distancing, one-way systems, defined points of ingress and egress, and clear signage. Additional measures also include socially distanced catering outlets, hand sanitisation points, track and trace systems in place for both universities, 65,000 care packs that providing all students and staff with face covering, thermometer and hand sanitiser, and enhanced cleaning regimes. The universities are also in discussion about increasing testing capacity in Newcastle.

Today marks the launch of the Outbreak Plan. It includes defined incident response plans submitted to Department for Education and to be approved by Newcastle City Council Director of Public Health

The plan outlines the city response to managing outbreaks with key partners working together and includes a clear Covid-19 outbreak response command structure and decision flows. It provides extensive scenario planning activities, including a joint exercise with both universities and procedures in place to assist students and staff self-isolating.

Marc Lintern, Director of Student Experience, Newcastle University, said: “Students will be vitally important in helping the North East recover from the pandemic, and the additional funding for Operation Oak shows that our universities place great importance on community unity and the positive benefits of bringing students to the region.

“It is important to recognise the contribution of students from both universities, the vast majority of whom have been following Government advice on social distancing and self-isolating.

“The two universities meet regularly with representatives of both Students’ Unions, Northumbria Police, Newcastle City Council and local councillors, in which we are striving for ‘community unity’, and we have a number of plans in place for the coming academic year, which will be a very different experience for students.”

To contact Operation Oak about student behaviour, residents should text Operation Oak 07504 898148 – and at other times should contact the Police on 101.


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