STUDENT UNION officials are set to storm into campus bedrooms in a legally questionable security crackdown, with the full support of the University Security Services.
The ‘nicked-it’ campaign will involve partially trained Student Union picked officials, under the guidance of Security Services, entering any student bedroom with an open window or unlocked door, and placing ‘nicked it’ stickers on any property they could have stolen. SU Welfare Officer John Rose confirmed that, despite endorsing the campaign, University security staff will not be present when the rooms are checked.
This has prompted lawyer, James Burke, from Cambridge University, to cast doubt upon the right of members of the University to enter student rooms without their express permission.
The law clearly states that any unauthorised or unreserved entry onto land can amount to trespass. Burke said that although it would be up to a court to decide the exact scope of the student’s rights, the actions “would prima facie be an encroachment by the University, through their agent the Security Service, and indeed a potentially separate trespass by any SU personnel.”
Not a man afraid of controversy, Rose said, “I think in this kind of thing you do need to go for a shock tactic. I told people at the start of the year to close their windows. But when it comes to shock tactics, sometimes you just have to do it.”
North Yorkshire Police were unable to comment on the heated legal debate that this campaign has sparked, and insisted that they were going to investigate the “ins and outs” further, particularly the views of the SU and Security Services.
William Humphreys, a first year Philosophy student, commented: “I’m not a big fan of that idea. I just don’t think it’s up to them to decide whether you should close your door or not. If people leave their door unlocked it’s their choice. I’d be a bit pissed off [if he found his room had been invaded], because it’s a bit of a nuisance finding stickers everywhere.”
Although controversial, some students have defended Rose’s campaign, Pascal Costello, a second year History student, said: “I think it’s quite a good idea, because a lot of students have had their stuff stolen and people aren’t aware that they are actually at risk.”
Concerns have also been raised over what will happen if the searchers find any illegal possessions in student rooms. However, Rose insisted: “We’re not going to find stuff that shouldn’t be there. If we did find something, it’s their room, the University owns it, I’m a third party going in and I’ll keep my nose out.”
The campaign is planned to begin in week four, and has the full support of Mick Watkins, the Security Services Operations Manager, who said: “I think this is a really positive initiative and I am very keen for the campaign to go ahead.”