The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have responded to a motion that was tabled and then withdrawn from Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union (QUBSU) Council, saying that they will continue to patrol the university campus. The motion, which was due to be debated at a meeting of the union’s council last Wednesday, was withdrawn hours before the meeting.
The motion outlined that “there have been a number of student-led protests at QUB where there has been a unnecessary heavy police presence on campus”, adding that students felt “intimidated” as a result.
The motion proposed that: “Student Officers create an agreed policy with the university to ensure policy are only called onto campus as a last resort when there is a real risk of threat or attack to student and staff safety on campus.”
Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick responded to the motion, saying: “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.”
Kirkpatrick added that the police 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.”
The motion was reported in the Belfast Newsletter to have been proposed by a student with links to QUB Órga Shinn Féin. However, the national chairperson of Órga Shinn Fein, the youth wing of the party, tweeted that this statement was incorrect.
Speaking to Trinity News, a spokesperson for QUBSU said: “Queen’s Students’ Union works closely with the PSNI on a number of issues, particularly in relation to student welfare and student safety and we will continue to do so in the future.”
Neither QUB Órga Shinn Féin nor QUB’s press office responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.