The additional funding will see Operation Oak patrols continue to cover every night of the week in areas of the city, including Jesmond, Sandyford, Heaton, Ouseburn.
Copied in many university cities, Operation Oak is a long-standing partnership between the two universities and Northumbria Police. It was set up to deal with issues around anti-social behaviour as well as to provide wellbeing support, safeguarding, education and engagement for students living in residential areas.
The scheme has already been extended throughout the autumn and spring terms to support the universities and police in reminding everyone of the importance of adhering to the latest Covid-19 restrictions and staying safe. Prior to this academic year, the two universities already provided annual funding of £125,000 to support community policing at peak times of the year.
Building positive relationship between students and the local community
Marc Lintern, Deputy Academic Registrar and Director of Careers at Newcastle University, said: “It is more important than ever to work closely with the Police, City Council, Ward Councillors, Northumbria University and our two Students’ Unions to ensure that we are taking a coordinated approach to support the safety and wellbeing of students, colleagues and residents.
“The extension of Operation Oak for the summer term will go a long way towards helping us achieve this, and it shows how working together can maximise the contribution we make to our community.”
Vashti Hutton, Assistant Director for Student Engagement at Northumbria University, added: “We know how much Operation Oak is valued by all residents in the local community, so we are pleased that we can provide additional support over the coming months.
“The continued joined-up approach between the two universities, the police and other stakeholders is a great example of how collaboration can work to protect our students’ health and wellbeing during this time, as well as provide additional assistance to all residents to promote positive community relations.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Anita Morgan, of Northumbria Police, said: “Operation Oak has been an overwhelming success in recent years and has helped build a positive relationship between students and the local community.
“We understand that this year has been incredibly difficult for students and that the academic year has felt very different because of the restrictions that are in place to prevent the mix of households.
“But I want to thank the vast majority of students who have adhered to those rules, worked with police and helped us ensure they can continue to enjoy the academic year within the current restrictions.
“We would continue ask everyone to behave responsibly and want to reassure residents in our student areas that we will continue to patrol the area to engage positively with the public and ensure everyone is remaining safe.
“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.”
An asset to the city
Benthe Tanghe, Athletic Union Officer at Newcastle University Students’ Union, said: “Students living in the local community are an asset to the city but we know that there have been additional issues raised because of the pandemic. NUSU welcomes initiatives that focus on supporting student safety and we encourage students to use Operation Oak if they are in need of assistance for a community safety matter.’’
Anna Kemp, Vice President Welfare at Northumbria Students’ Union, said: “Student wellbeing and safety is our priority, so we support any city-wide measures to ensure this, while maintaining a positive atmosphere in the communities where students live. We understand the importance of being a good neighbour and encourage any student to use Operation Oak if they are in need of support within the local community to help them stay safe.”
To contact Operation Oak, text Operation Oak 07504 898148 – and at other times should contact the Police on 101.