Students in Leamington have been causing so much disturbance on nights out that Warwick University is forking out £50,000 to pay for marshals to control them.
The university is thought to be the first institution in the country to resort to such measures.
For the rest of the academic year, up to eight street marshals - provided by SafetyNet Security Group - will patrol the areas of Leamington most frequented by students between 11pm and 4am to encourage them to respect others when returning home and to offer pastoral care, similar to the care already offered by volunteers from All Saint’s church’s Nightlight scheme.
The new scheme is being run as a joint operation between the university, its student union, Warwick District Council and Warwickshire Police in reponse to increasing complaints from south Leamington residents of the disturbances they say students are causing at night due to drinking heavily.
District councillor Michael Coker, responsible for policy on health and community protection, said, “This is a national first and a unique partnership. It is an important part of our early intervention approach in making Royal Leamington Spa a safer place.”
The university’s registrar Ken Sloan said, “We have agreed to fund the street marshals scheme in order to support our students living in Leamington and to respond positively to the concerns expressed by some members of the local community.
“The scheme is one of a number of investments the university is making in Leamington to the benefit of students and other residents.”
And the university’s student union is supporting the move, with “only positive” feedback from students, according to its president Ben Sundell. In response to a pilot which ran last autumn, he said: “The marshals have been a friendly and reassuring presence, who have been on hand to help students get home safely, pass on welfare advice and provide a calmer environment on nights out.
“The fact that there is always a female marshal in every pair has also been particularly well received.”
The marshals have some of the same powers as police officers and they will be recognised by a Chief Constable-approved uniform, which is different to that worn by police and police community support officers.
The scheme was approved after last year’s pilot was thought to have been successful.