Police have said they will continue to patrol facilities at Queen’s University Belfast, answer calls for assistance and attend events on campus.
The PSNI was responding to a controversial motion put forward to the QUB Students’ Union Council calling for police officers to be excluded from the university campus unless it is “a last resort” where there is “a very real threat” to the safety of staff or students.
The motion was due to be debated by the students’ union council on Wednesday evening, but following inquiries from the News Letter it was removed from the agenda.
It is not clear whether the motion has been permanently scrapped, or if it will be put back on the agenda for a future council meeting.
Responding to the motion, which claimed “there have been a number of student-led protests at QUB where there has been a (sic) unnecessary heavy police presence on campus” and “many of our students feel intimidated by police”, Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “As with other academic institutions and businesses, police officers and crime prevention staff continue to work closely with Queen’s University Belfast and the Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union, regularly patrolling facilities, answering calls for assistance, providing safety and crime prevention advice to staff and students.
“We will also continue to attend the wide range of events and provide support to various initiatives, mirroring the partnership work we carry out in all communities across Northern Ireland to keep people safe.
“I am not aware of any complaints regarding our attendance at the university and have always been made to feel welcome by staff and students; however, anyone with a complaint about police actions can contact the police ombudsman.”
UUP councillor Alexander Redpath, a former chair of QUB Student Council, condemned the motion as “dangerous and offensive” and claimed there was “a clear republican influence” behind it.
The News Letter understands it was proposed by a student with links to QUB Sinn Fein – a political society affiliated to the youth wing of the republican party.
QUB Sinn Fein was contacted for comment but hadn’t replied at the time of writing.