Greater Manchester Police’s Tactical Aid Unit riot squads outside fallowfield campus. PHOTO: GBC Manchester
A guest post by University of Manchester (UoM) Cops Off Campus.

Since the start of the term in Autumn 2020, University of Manchester Students have faced repressive and intrusive policing. From waking up to find checkpoints and temporary fencing surrounding their halls of residence, to police patrols of their living spaces, the police presence has been excessive and intrusive.

The accounts from students paint a disturbing picture of police actions:

“I was playing Monopoly with my flatmates in our shared kitchen when the police walked into our flat. They must have been given keys by staff or been let in by staff because we did not consent to let them in. They saw we weren’t breaking any rules and told us to go to bed. It was a disturbing intrusion, which has made me feel like I can’t be safe in my own home. I couldn’t believe they thought they had a right to tell us when to go to bed.”

In response, Manchester students have formed “Cop off Campus”, with a clear demand: for the University to stop working with the police to actively patrol campus and give them access to flats.

This report is written by a group of students in Cops off Campus, all of whom have witnessed first-hand the treatment of students by the authorities on campus. Since their formation in November 2020, Cops off Campus have recorded:

  • Excessive uses of force to police student populations in Manchester, particularly in Fallowfield
  • That Black students and students of colour have been disproportionately targeted by both police and campus security on campus, often leaving affected students incredibly distressed and upset.
  • That Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the University of Manchester have both broken the law in order to hand out fines to students; namely by entering student flats, which is unlawful. This is evidenced in the report by testimony from students and Legal Observers

Experiences detailed in the report of student experiences with GMP and campus security have varied drastically, with police interventions ranging from warnings, to stop and searches, all the way through to arrests.

Without making excuses or justifying the breaking of Covid restrictions, Cops off Campus believes that the policing of students on campus has been totally disproportionate, as a majority of students are following Covid guidelines. The police presence on campus has been overzealous and disproportionate, with individual police officers often acting in ways that have made students feel uncomfortable and unsafe in their own homes.

Cops off Campus believes that GMP’s consistent breaking of the law – with regards to entering peoples’ homes – has been encouraged and assisted by the University of Manchester and on-campus security, who have even been seen letting police into flats and bedrooms.

To support the campaign, read and share the report.

If you’re a student at another University experiencing similar treatment, please get in touch to share your experiences by emailing Netpol in strictest confidence at netpoladmin@protonmail.com.