Northampton University pays for police patrols to prevent 'strain'

Northamptonshire Police campus team Image copyright University of Northampton
Image caption The officers will offer "high visibility patrol of the campus to deter crime and disorder"

A university says it is paying for police to patrol its new campus because "central funding to officers is reducing".

The Northamptonshire Police team will cost the University of Northampton £774,027 over three academic years.

As first reported in the Northampton Chronicle, the force said officer numbers had not gone down elsewhere.

The university decided to fund the team "rather than allow the taxpayer to bear the cost".

A spokesman said "young people in university towns and cities are often seen as a soft target for criminals" and the pilot programme would "enhance the safety of our 13,000 students for... less than £20 each per year".

Image caption The University of Northampton has transformed wasteland by the River Nene into a base for 12,000 of its students

About 12,000 of the university's 13,000 students are based at the £350m Waterside Campus on a site by the River Nene, which opened in September.

The university spokesman said: "[It] has concentrated thousands of people closer to the centre of Northampton and as such would have created additional strain upon the police at a time when central funding to officers is reducing.

"Rather than allow the taxpayer to bear the brunt of cost and limited resources, the university made a commitment to fund a team which would add to the police presence in the town rather than stretch it further."

Image copyright University of Northamptonshire
Image caption Sgt Lorna Clarke (right) is in charge of the team

In March, Northamptonshire Police executed two search warrants at St John's hall of residence "after concerns were raised about drug-related anti-social behaviour".

Sgt Lorna Clarke said her team of five constables aimed to "keep people safe and help them feel safe, as well as to enforce the law and tackle any crimes".

They will be based at Waterside, be available seven days a week and offer regular surgeries.

The officers will also work with the university's security staff and student volunteers to protect students visiting the town and when returning to halls of residence.

A police spokeswoman said: "Police numbers have not gone down elsewhere and the team's previous roles have been filled".

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