Police hunt for organiser of 200-strong illegal party

Police are hunting for the organiser of a halls of residence party in which 200 people were seen dancing outside.

The area commander for the city has also warned students they will be hauled before the courts if repeatedly caught at these parties rather than face another fine.

Bottles of empty Jägermeister and rum, beer bottles, nitric oxide canisters, and even a firework were left strewn outside St Peter’s Court halls of residence in the aftermath of Saturday’s mass gathering.

Superintendent Mat Healey, city area commander for Nottinghamshire Police, called the behaviour “clearly unacceptable.”

He said officers are working to find the organiser of the event, who will be issued with a £10,000 fine for the Covid-19 breach.

Officers were called to the halls of residence in Midland Way, Radford, which accommodates 805 University of Nottingham students, on Saturday, November 28.

Illegal student party held at St Peter's Court in Radford
Illegal student party held at St Peter’s Court in Radford
(Image: Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

Police arrived to find 200 people in the courtyard and broke up the illegal gathering at around 12midnight.

They are now carrying out a full investigation to find the organiser.

First-year students at the halls of residence, who did not wish to be named but saw the event, described how big speakers had been placed outside with “lots of people dancing in the rain”.

One 18-year-old University of Nottingham student said: “At midnight, we heard loud music. It was random and not planned.

“There was lots of people standing in the rain and there were big speakers outside. The police came and everyone scattered.

“I think people had come from all over. It was Nottingham Trent and University of Nottingham because we did not recognise some people.”

Students plaster signs in windows at St Peter's Court in Radford
Students plaster signs in windows at St Peter’s Court in Radford
(Image: Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

Another 18-year-old University of Nottingham student added: “They set up some massive speakers. When police arrived I have never seen people run so quickly. It was like watching athletics.”

Superintendent Healey said: “It is clearly unacceptable. Officers found a party with a significant number of young people, several hundred on arrival.

“There was a significant number of people outside the premises and going into the halls of residence.

“We are continuing to investigate what has happened on the night. The organiser of the party will face a £10,000 fine if the evidence supports it.

“Anything that threatens businesses and livelihoods is something we clearly don’t want to see.

“We know these conditions are restrictive and difficult but they are there to keep people safe and to get back to a tier where businesses that are not operating can operate.”

Footage from the event has emerged over social media with students jumping up and down together, chanting and filming the event in the courtyard.

Beer bottles, rum bottles and nitric oxide canisters outside St Peter's Court
Beer bottles, rum bottles and nitric oxide canisters outside St Peter’s Court
(Image: Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

Superintendent Healey said 500 fines had been handed out in the city so far, and that only a minority of students out of 40,000 were breaking the rules.

However, he said some students who had previously been handed £200 fines were found again at other parties.

Excuses include ‘I am low risk’ or they ‘expect a university experience’.

He said: “There are some, few in numbers, where people are repeatedly appearing at parties after a £200 fixed penalty notice.

“Where people are repeatedly appearing at parties then a £200 fine will not be enough and we will put them before the courts to determine the appropriate sanction.

“We would report them to summons and it would be down to a magistrate to determine the outcome.

“My plea to students who are going home for Christmas is to avoid the temptation to have a pre-Christmas party in Nottingham so they can keep their families and loved ones safe.”

Illegal party held in court yard at St Peter's Court halls of residence
Illegal party held in court yard at St Peter’s Court halls of residence
(Image: Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

Police are boosting their patrols to the same level as Freshers Week to stop students from holding Christmas parties in the run up to December 9 – the last official day they have to return home.

Labour councillor Anne Peach, who covers the Radford area, said universities need to start suspending students as a stronger deterrent.

She said: “If we don’t pull together we will not get through this pandemic.

“Most of the students are well behaved and stick to guidelines but I just wonder how severely or rigorously the university are applying their sanctions.

“It should not happen and puts the whole community at risk. Pretty soon they will be going home and if there are any infections they will be taking them with them.

“I think the universities ought to take a stronger line on this. They ought to be suspending them and sending them home.”

It is not known if any students have been suspended as a result of these large house parties or gatherings.

A University of Nottingham spokesman said: “The overwhelming majority of students are following the rules and there are now just 16 cases of Covid-19 reported in a student population of 35,000.

“However, there is no excuse, we have been abundantly clear that where a minority breach Covid restrictions we will act, in concert with Nottinghamshire Police where necessary.

“It is vital for the safety of everyone in our community and city that we keep following the guidance and the law.

“In addition to the fixed penalties issued by police, the university will take disciplinary action.

“In the most serious cases, students will be fast-tracked to the highest levels of our process where suspension and exclusion are potential outcomes.”


Nottinghamshire Live – Local News