Police raid parties and issue fines as students flout lockdown restrictions in Covid-hit Leicester

By Laura Murphy and Sarah Danquah

A student who was fined £800 for contravening lockdown laws and attending an illegal party says he doesn’t regret going to the party – he only regrets getting caught.

The 19-year-old student, who was visiting his girlfriend at DMU from his uni in London, was arrested by police after they broke up a huge party in student accommodation.

The incident happened on Saturday night (FEB27) at Inka Studios in Percy Road, near to the University of Leicester. There were more incidents nearer to DMU the previous night.

“We just wanted to be around people and didn’t really think about the virus,” admitted the 19-year-old student, who did not want to be named. 

Young people gather in the street after police put a stop to their illegal party.

“The police turned up at 4 am and shut everything down. I’m not really around people so who could I really pass the virus on to? All the people that are vulnerable are currently being vaccinated anyway.

“If you’re willing to break the law, though, you should be able to face the consequences.”

‘Several illegal parties’

It was one of several illegal parties students held in the city last weekend, according to Leicestershire police. Leicester currently boasts the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the East Midlands.

Similar parties were broken up by police in student households in Dover Street, Marquis Street and Tudor Road, near DMU, on Friday night.

Police estimate more than 100 students had attended the parties and that 35 people were issued with £200 forced penalty fines.

The Friday night party seemed to start in one house and move to others, say neighbours, as the police attended and broke-up gatherings.

Harvey Mills, the director of Cloud Student, the company that owns the student property in this area, said calls were made to police and they attended promptly. Mr Mills called on DMU to crack down on students breaking restrictions.

Residents of Tudor Road were disgusted at the blatant disregard for the rules.

“Some of us have lost our jobs so it’s quite disturbing seeing all these people being inconsiderate and not caring about what is happening around them,” one resident said.

Another resident who witnessed the partying said students were being irresponsible. “Parties like these occupy the police at the weekend,” she said. “The police shouldn’t have to deal with students being inconsiderate.”

A police spokesperson said they will be patrolling the Tudor Road area to prevent other gatherings from happening. 

Will it stop the gatherings? It might not. One student who ran from las weekend’s party and was not caught remains unrepentant.

“I wanted to have fun. I am tired of staying of indoors. I feel like Covid is never ending,” she said.

“I’d definitely go to a party again – not this week but probably next week.”

We asked DMU to comment on this, but they did not respond.

Two special limited podcast series produced by final year DMU Broadcast Journalism students

Final year BA Broadcast Journalism students have produced two special short podcast series focusing on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid Files examines the impact of COVID-19 on society. The individual episodes look at University sports, theatre work, and being homeschooled, by investigating how much everyone has had to truly tackle since the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020. anchor.fm/millie05

Keeping Education on Track https://anchor.fm/shivani-chauhan38/, is a short series that looks at how education has changed due to Covid-19. Episodes include online learning, school dinners in lockdown, and student mental health.

‘All I could hear was screaming. All I could see was blood’ – the car crash that changed my life forever

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The lights, the scream, the blood. That is the sequence I can’t get out of my head, writes Beatriz Abreu Ferreira. It’s there when I try to sleep. It there when I’m having a shower. It’s there when I’m in the car, going somewhere, or when my family are talking to me.

Two months have passed since it happened, but as I try to write this, my hands are still shaking as they were on that day. I was driving home after work. It was a cold, rainy night, and I hated driving on days like these. As I was going up on a hill, I was blinded by the lights of the car coming on the opposite side of the road. Then all I could hear were screams, and all I could see was blood.

A woman has crossed the road running from the rain, hoping to get to the supermarket on the other side of the street, and ended up on top of my windshield. Thankfully she wasn’t seriously injured, but from that moment on I wasn’t myself anymore.

I felt like I was watching a movie, that wasn’t really my life, it couldn’t be. Although trauma can look a lot of different ways for a lot of different people. This is a common reaction to a traumatic experience. It’s the brain’s response to frightening events. It is called ‘acute stress response’ and happens in order to help us react faster in the face of perceived danger, by triggering changes in the nervous and adrenal systems. Any event of violence or grief can make your body go into ‘acute stress’ mode.

The release of adrenaline lowers logic to allow faster, spontaneous, and intuitive decisions. On that day, I dialled the emergency call numbers for the first time without even thinking. Bystanders tried to give me an umbrella but I didn’t feel the rain. I stopped the blood coming out of the bruise in her forehead but it didn’t felt like it were my hands holding the gauze. All this had a neurologic reason behind, and similar things happen to other people in traumatic situations.

More than 10 family members of the victim, who lived nearby, lined up next to the emergency team. They never accused me of anything, but as I stared at their faces, knowing I had caused them pain, all I could feel was guilt.

I remember the words of the police officer telling me ‘it could have happened to anyone’, but it happened to me. Would have been any different if it happened to a more experienced driver? I guess I will never know the answer to that question…

When the police arrived to talk to me I immediately opened the door of their car ready to go with them and be punished as they considered fair. Turned out it doesn’t work like that. I had never been interrogated by police officer before, I had never done the alcohol and drug tests, never had filled a report. Many things happened for the first time on that day which I will remember forever.

After the accident, I didn’t allow myself to feel better. How could I be feeling slightly happier, how could I move on when I was feeling responsible for someone’s suffering?

Most people still don’t know this happened. I don’t know how to talk about it. It still doesn’t seem real. I ignore every question about my sudden decision to stop driving.  And every so often, on very random circumstances, the flashbacks are back.

This is because our body’s response to frightening events can lead to chronic problems. Symptoms include trouble sleeping, feeling on edge frequently, being very easily startled, anxious, or jumpy, having flashbacks, or avoiding things that remind you of the event. Sometimes these go away after a few weeks. But they can last much longer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left millions of people experiencing anxiety, depression, denial and anger as part of the grieving process, which goes hand in hand with trauma.

The only way to move forward is acknowledging and accepting our feelings, reaching out to friends and family or a mental health professional, and taking care of ourselves and our mental health. Most people recover on their own with time. We only have to stay patient.