Police break up illegal rave as of 200 students party at halls of residence
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Police broke up an illegal rave where 200 university students were partying at a halls of residence in defiance of England's coronavirus lockdown.
Footage posted online shows crowds of students dancing to loud music outside St Peter's Court, which houses University of Nottingham pupils, as they flout rules aimed at saving lives and protecting the NHS.
As crowds of young people gathered outside the block, smaller parties were happening inside. It came amid fears the virus could spread from campuses to homes when students return to their families at Christmas.
Police have condemned the students, saying there are no excuses for breaching Covid-19 laws and investigations are ongoing after officers were called to a courtyard in the early hours of Sunday morning.
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About 200 students partied at a University of Nottingham halls of residence
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Nottinghamshire Police said officers were unable to arrest anyone as the crowd dispersed when they arrived, the BBC reported.
As large crowds gathered outside St Peter's Court, many smaller parties were happening inside the student accommodation, The Tab reported.
University students in Nottingham were blamed in October – and several were fined £10,000 for throwing parties – when the city had the highest coronavirus infection rate in England.
At one point that month, Nottingham's seven-day rate was more than 700 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.
The revellers have been condemned by police and social media users
Nottinghamshire Police broke up a number of illegal parties at the weekend
The rate has come down considerably since then and was 196.8 last week, but the city will be in Tier 3 when the lockdown ends on Wednesday.
Police said partygoers across Nottinghamshire had their evenings "interrupted" on Saturday, as officers tackled several illegal gatherings and issued multiple fines.
The force said in a statement: "Officers were called to flat in Pilcher Gate, Nottingham, shortly before 10.30pm last night and issued £200 fixed penalty notices to 21 people found inside.
"Investigations are ongoing to establish the identity of the organiser, who could face additional punishment.
Footage was widely shared on social media
"Another large party was broken up shortly after midnight at an address in Corporation Oaks, St Ann's and the organiser was issued with a summons to appear in court at a later date."
Elsewhere in the county, officers issued another five £200 fixed penalty notices after responding to reports of a party in a field in Gonalston, near Lowdham, shortly after 9pm.
Investigations are under way to identify the organiser of the event, and a driver who crashed into a police car as they fled the scene.
The force statement added: "Investigations are also ongoing after officers dispersed a gathering of around 200 young people in an outdoor courtyard at a student halls of residence in St Peter's Street, Nottingham."
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Detective Superintendent Andrew Gowan said: "The very last thing we want to be doing as police officers is to be punishing people for gathering together and having fun.
"However, the current national restrictions are in place to protect the wider public from harm and we will keep enforcing them for as long as we need to.
"Whilst it is heartening that the vast majority of people clearly understand and are obeying the current restrictions, it is deeply disappointing that so many others needed such an expensive reminder that the rules apply equally to everyone.
"We understand that this is a difficult time but there really are no excuses for this kind of behaviour where people are blatantly ignoring the restrictions in such large numbers."
The Government plans to test all students before they leave university and travel home for Christmas with their families.
But the plan has been thrown into question as the University and College Union (UCU) raised “grave concerns” about the accuracy of the Covid-19 tests.
Earlier this month experts suggested that relying on rapid tests that give a result in minutes could mean a high proportion of cases are missed with false negative results.
The UCU said this week's mass evacuation of students was a “recipe for chaos” due to "flaws" in the Government's approach.
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The union claims many students have already returned home without being tested and it expects some will decline to take the voluntary test.
It said not all universities have agreed to take part in the mass testing scheme.
Students will be encouraged to take an asymptomatic test at "targeted" universities in England, while teaching will move online by December 9 so they have enough time to self-isolate if needed.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "The flaws in Government plans for mass testing are a recipe for chaos that risk spreading the virus.
"We have grave concerns over how this programme will be carried out, particularly the risk of students being told – incorrectly – they do not have Covid, then relying on their test result to travel home and spend Christmas with vulnerable relatives.
"The risk of students receiving the wrong test result increases when testers have not been fully trained – rushing these plans makes that more likely."