Police break up parties at Edinburgh student halls

Police break up parties at Edinburgh student halls

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Police said they had been called to break up “numerous” parties at the university’s main halls of residence complex

Police have been called to break up a number of parties at the University of Edinburgh’s main halls of residence.

Officers said they had dispersed “numerous” groups on Friday night at Pollock Halls of Residence, which houses about 1,900 students.

Students in Scotland are being told not to go to pubs, parties or restaurants in an attempt to slow a spate of coronavirus outbreaks.

The university has been approached for comment.

It is understood that at least one of the blocks at the halls has been put into “lockdown” following a confirmed case of Covid-19.

Some students have complained of “confusing” messages from the university authorities, while others have told the BBC they were not receiving food deliveries regularly while in self-isolation in their rooms.

Police Scotland said they had been called to Pollock Halls of Residence, on the edge of the Holyrood Park, after “informants” raised concerns the parties were breaching regulations that prevent more than one household mixing indoors.

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Insp David Hughes told BBC Scotland: “Police Scotland attended and we’ve spoken to a number of the parties and dispersed those individuals. [Officers] provided education and advice as to what is and what isn’t in line with current regulations.

“From a police perspective, we’ve been relatively well received there. We have had some people who were unhappy with the regulations – but more the laws that are in force currently rather than the police response.

Insp Hughes said officers had broken up a number of small parties of five to seven students with people who were “clearly not from the same household”.

No arrests were made and no fines were issued, he said.

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Some students said they felt there were being watched “24-7” by police and security

The officer added: “It must feel strange to people of that age and you can understand their frustrations in relation to the current regulations but overall the reason that that’s there is to protect the health of the United Kingdom.”

Cases of Covid-19 have surged in Scotland over the last two weeks, with 714 positive tests confirmed on Saturday.

Universities in Scotland pledged last week to make it “absolutely clear” to students that they should not be holding parties or socialising with people outside their accommodation.

Angus Graham-Rack, a first-year at the University of Edinburgh, said the restrictions placed on students had been a “kick in the teeth”.

“We were all encouraged to come to halls of residence and meet new people, yet are now are being criticised for doing so,” he said.

‘Completely cheated’

“We are all left wondering why we even bothered moving here since everyone I know has had any face-to-face interactions with staff yet – we may as well have done the course from home.

“It feels like we’ve been completely cheated as we were promised at least some sort of a student experience in the midst of the pandemic, yet now we’re essentially confined to our own flats with signs plastered around the building ordering us to not socialise.”

Another first-year student at Pollock Halls told the BBC there was a “pretty weird vibe” around the university.

“There’s always police here now. It feels like we’re being watched 24-7 which is a bit scary,” she said.

“My friend’s in Holland House and she said that the whole of the Holland House blocks had been locked down and there’s been people patrolling to make sure that no-one’s leaving.”

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Students in Scotland have been told not to visit pubs or restaurants or to hold parties

Another first year said dozens of students were heading home rather than self-isolating in the halls.

“It’s so strict. You can literally see a group of six people and you have to pre-book everything,” she said.

“So there’s just no point in being at uni and we’re paying through the roof as well.”

Coronavirus laws in Scotland currently forbid students from returning home as they are deemed to have formed a new household with those they are now living with.

Health teams are also dealing with a big outbreak among students at Glasgow University, where 172 students have tested positive.

In Dundee, 45 Covid-19 cases have now been confirmed at Parker House and one at Meadowside Hall – both Abertay University halls of residence

NHS Tayside said it was expecting the number of cases to rise.

A number of Aberdeen University students have also tested positive.

Meanwhile, NHS Fife has confirmed seven workers from Kettle Produce in Balmalcolm in Fife, have tested positive for Covid-19.

It said all confirmed cases had mild symptoms and were currently isolating at home.

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