It has come to light that over the summer months a homeless couple have been breaking into University buildings in Derwent in order to take advantage of empty facilities. However, it is understood that both international students from the University of York’s partner universities as well as younger college students were staying at the University over the summer when these events were taking place.
Regarding the incident, Keith Kinsella, Assistant Head of Derwent College, stated that “A number of incidents occurred over the summer where a young man and his girlfriend gained unauthorised access to University buildings in a bid to use some of the facilities. On each occasion security were alerted and the pair were escorted from the campus. The matter has now been referred to the police.
“The couple posed no threat to students or staff but residents are reminded to be vigilant, keep their doors and windows locked and re-port any concerns to security. The two people involved were offered advice regarding the support they could receive from City of York Council and we understand have now been found temporary accommodation away from the University.”
This situation comes at a time in which homelessness in York seems to be an increasing concern, in particular with the winter months ahead. Recent reports in national media have revealed that anti-vagrancy spikes had been placed on the street in York, in particular in the Gillygate area, in order to prevent homeless citizens from taking refuge. This has now resulted in a public response, and more than £5000 of donations have been made to a local rough sleeper whose shelter was blocked by spikes outside the Stapleton Waterhouse.
When asked if they were concerned with the security issues regarding members of the public being able to gain unauthorised access, one Derwent first year student currently living in college accommodation stated: “If a homeless couple has broken in then this is something that we should take care in addressing. It does not however in any way make me feel unsafe; rather it points to the serious issue of homelessness that York and the country at large faces.”
When the same question was posed to a third year Derwent student they stated: “I am not worried by the fact that homeless people managed to break in, but it raises concerns about what would hap-pen if someone had the intent of breaking in to harm a resident.”
Another student who lived in Derwent accommodation last year corroborated with this view, stating that “There is a lot of freedom of movement within the college, which is a large contributor to Derwent’s community spirit. We are fortunate enough to live in a comparatively safe area, where we can reap the benefits of this with-out placing students at significant risk.”
Other students outside of Derwent were also asked by Nouse about whether they had any security concerns on campus. One second year History student stated that they were “concerned by a lack of communication between the university and students regarding security issues.” This was confirmed by the views of a third year English student who that added “transparency from the University is essential to ensuring the security of students on campus.”
Derwent College, currently holds events throughout the year to try and aid the local community and those impacted by homelessness. This year the Derwent JCRC plans to donate 50 pence of every Christmas D ticket sold to the charity Crisis, who hope to put an end to homelessness. Crisis was one of two chosen charities to be donated to for the years RAG week.