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Lecturers shocked by Bristol police raid on college

14 December 2006 | last updated: 14 December 2015

College authorities from City of Bristol College have met police this week to discuss a recent incident when a student was arrested in the corridor outside his classroom at City of Bristol College.

UCU has raised questions about the conduct of Bristol police during the incident.

The student, an alleged failed asylum seeker according to police, was arrested after an English language lesson on Monday 20 November. Police had earlier asked the student's teacher to allow them to arrest the student during the lesson, but the class teacher did not wish the lesson to be disrupted.

Classmates were upset as the popular student was arrested in front of them in the corridor, after the lesson. According to UCU the teacher of the class and the other students were left in an extremely distressed state. The student awaits possible deportation.

UCU members are concerned that the college enabled police to conduct the arrest in an inappropriate way by providing police with information about the student's timetable. The union has complained to the college's management.

The college's management is also unhappy. Police seem to have broken a previously negotiated protocol between the college and Bristol city police about how to conduct investigations concerning students.

Roger Kline, UCU head of equality and employment rights said: 'This has distressed staff as well as students and it raises questions about how colleges should respond to police inquiries and how staff and students are to be protected from unnecessary distress.

'There has been no indication that this student was potentially violent or requiring such dramatic procedures. It seems this was merely a student from abroad learning English in an effort to improve himself. UCU is always aware of its duty to assist police forces in carrying out their lawful duties but colleges and schools should be sanctuaries for learning, not soft targets for police raids.

'If the police wish to interview vulnerable students, then they should do so in a way which does not distress lecturers or students. If indeed the arrested student was an asylum seeker, it should be remembered that many asylum seekers will have escaped to this country because of state action which may have included abuse by police.

'We call upon the police, not just in Bristol but nationwide, to discuss with college managements the kinds of protocols which will allow the law to be observed but which will also take into account the rights and fears of staff and students.'

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