Northern Ireland

Drunken students 'risking future careers', says university

Youths on roof in Holylands, Belfast, 20 September 2016 Image copyright Lisa McGarry
Image caption Belfast council has received 150 complaints about student behaviour this week

Students involved in anti-social behaviour in Belfast's Holyland area are putting their education and careers at risk, says Queen's University.

More than 150 complaints about the behaviour of students from various institutions have been lodged with Belfast City Council since Monday.

Ulster University and teaching college undergraduates also live in the area.

On Wednesday, the PSNI confirmed its officers gave verbal warnings and on-the-spot fines to almost 100 people.

Permanent residents in the Holyland area said they had been "terrorised" by drunken students "causing mayhem" in the early hours of the morning.

Briege Ruddy from the College Park Residents Association said: "Between 1am and 3am it's complete bedlam - they arrive home drunk, upsetting the whole community, keeping children awake, firing bottles at houses and smashing windscreens.

Image caption Police patrol the streets on Monday night in the Holyland area of Belfast

"We had our wing mirror kicked off last night. When my husband came out to look at it, two guys just laughed at him."

Speaking to the BBC, Queen's spokesperson Ciaran Rogan said any of their students who partake in such behaviour risk expulsion from the university which can, in turn, damage their career prospects.

"Our students sign up to a charter that sets out the standards of behaviour that's expected of them - by enrolling, they undertake to abide by our policies and regulations.

"If they don't, they'll face the consequences and that ranges from fines to expulsion by the university, which can have a long-term impact on their future employability."

Image caption Residents said they had been "terrorised" by drunken students

In July, residents groups expressed concerns about plans to tackle ongoing problems in the area, saying they did not go far enough.

Alliance Party MLA Paula Bradshaw said statutory agencies should have been much more visible on the ground in recent nights.

"Belfast City Council have an anti-social behaviour unit and a number of wardens who go out to patrol. They can't have failed to see [what was happening] last night and they have a responsibility to get out there and make sure young people aren't drinking on the streets and aren't creating noise pollution," said Ms Bradshaw.

"The Housing Executive have a landlord registration scheme and when they get reports that tenants are not behaving properly, they have the power to go out and investigate and I think that if a few landlords were being struck off the list, they would soon sort out the tenants living there."

Image caption Queen's University has warned students about anti-social behaviour

Mr Rogan said all agencies and academic institutions need to work in close partnership to resolve the issue.

"We encourage all residents and members of the public, who witness or experience anti-social behaviour to contact the police or the council noise team. These agencies should then inform the relevant university and on receipt of this information, a dedicated community affairs officer will visit the property the next working day to investigate.

"If Queen's students are involved, they're required to meet with their community affairs manager to establish the facts and if it's then passed to a disciplinary officer, a sanction will be imposed, ranging from a fine of up to £250 on a first offence that's deemed to be minor anti-social behaviour, to a fine of £500 or expulsion for more serious offences."

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