Student patrols with police in Cheltenham town centre helps cut trouble
STUDENTS have always had a reputation of partying hard.
Their antics can be the stuff of legend as they try to compete to perform the most outrageous escapade.
But not all are enjoying the freedom of their youth by indulging in drinking contests.
A group of students from the University of Gloucestershire are doing something different – joining police out on patrol.
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The team of 12 are part of the Superstarsxtra initiative, a scheme being run by the university's Students' Union to clamp down on overly silly antics, offer advice and help if revellers have had too much to drink.
And it has proved to be a success since it started last September, with figures showing that it has halved the number of student-related incidents in the town on the nights it runs.
Matthew Dickinson, 19, is in his second year of reading sports education.
He joined up last September and was made the team leader, and given the task of arranging for the groups to head out into the town centre every Monday night.
"I got involved because it seemed like it would be a good experience," said Matthew. "It is important to be out there to help and make sure the nights are safe for students."
Team members were given SIA (Security Industry Authority) training – the same instructions given to bouncers.
"We were taught how to make sure we were safe and how to look after others," said Matthew. "We had to learn how to make them safe while we got help."
He added students had appreciated seeing their university colleagues looking out for them.
"From what I have seen, the response has been fairly positive," he said.
"It isn't just the students who we help but also general members of the public. The nice thing is that many of them will come to us the next day to thank us for looking after them."
The teams go out in pairs and concentrate on the busy areas of the town centre between 11.30pm and 3am every week.
PCSO Ross Nicholl, the liaison officer at the university, said the scheme had been a success and hoped to continue it with next year's intake of students.
He added: "The initiative is very similar to the Street Pastors we have in the town. It takes a lot of pressure off the police officers who are out."