Essex Police has been working closely with staff at the Colchester campus of the University to support them in engaging with students to make sure they understand and follow the current restrictions.
The University has put a series of measures in place to ensure students are following the guidelines and doing their bit to stop the spread of the virus and keep each other safe.
The partnership work by Essex Police and the University has meant the majority of students have listened and followed the current guidelines.
However, after a small minority continued to break the rules, officers from Colchester upped patrols at the campus and surrounding areas over the weekend.
On Friday night officers found a group of seven people congregating in a car park at the university, all of which were issued with £200 fixed penalty notices.
On Saturday evening, officers were called to two house parties in Albany Road, Colchester both of which had eight people inside, all of whom were issued with fines.
During a foot patrol on the campus with University security staff on Saturday night officers also came across nine students from different accommodation who were congregating in a courtyard and they were also issued with fixed penalty notices.
Chief Inspector Rob Huddleston, District Commander for Colchester said: “We have worked really closely with the University of Essex to support them in explaining the current restrictions to their students around the rule of six.
“Our approach is always to explain and engage with people first around the current COVID-19 regulations, as we want to give people the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to do the right thing and stop the spread of the virus.
“However, as we have always said, where people repeatedly flout the rules, we will take enforcement action. Sadly, this turned out to be the case over the weekend where, during our patrols, we found groups meeting up, and in two cases having house parties.
“We don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, but we all have a legal and ethical responsibility to stop the spread of the virus, protect each other, our communities and the NHS.
“In cases where people do not listen to us and selfishly flout the rules repeatedly, they can expect that we will deal with them by taking enforcement action.
“Ultimately we all want the same thing – to stop the spread of the coronavirus and to see police officers doing what they do best, protecting victims and the vulnerable and catching criminals, so please help us do that by following the rules.”
Vanessa Potter, Director of External Relations at the University of Essex said: “The University is committed to the health and wellbeing of our students and the wider community.
“At this challenging time, we have made clear that all students must comply with Covid Regulations, and we are really proud that they are almost all taking this seriously and doing so.
“We were made aware of a few who were not, and so we asked the police to support us in managing these cases.
“This is not about stopping people having fun; it is about protecting the wider student population, our staff and the local community. We continue to work in partnership with our students and Essex Police to ensure we keep everyone safe.”
Fixed penalty notices of £200 can be issued to those caught taking part in gatherings of more than six people, this will reduce to £100 if paid within 28 days.
For persistent offenders the fixed penalty amount doubles for each subsequent offence. Those caught organising an unlawful gathering can face a fine of £10,000.