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IT MATTERS TO MARIA: UWI moving to safeguard students


MARIA BRADSHAW

IT MATTERS TO MARIA: UWI moving to safeguard students

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PRIVATE LANDLORDS offering accommodation to students through the University of the West Indies will have to submit their premises to a security audit or they will be taken off the UWI list.

This warning was issued on Tuesday by Orlando Alleyne, the officer in charge of off-campus accommodation, during a meeting with several foreign students to discuss security issues in their neighbourhoods.

The meeting, which took place with the Police Crime Prevention Unit at the Faculty of Law, was organised after this column highlighted the plight of students living at Pleasant View, Hinds Hill, near the campus. They complained about increased criminal activity in the area.

Speaking specifically about Pleasant View, Alleyne said they had tried a few years ago to get landlords to allow university security personnel to carry out an audit of their premises but this was rejected.

Admitting that he would take responsibility for not following through on that matter, Alleyne said if the landlords did not cooperate, “punitive” action would be taken against them.

“The landlords will be removed from our list if they are not cooperating,” he told the students. “In terms of that audit I will pursue that if it means writing to them and letting them understand the need for cooperation in order to alleviate some of these problems we are having.”

The university’s security audit involves a detailed inspection of the premises by security personnel, who also advise landlords on security issues such as lighting, alarm systems, burglar bars and general security matters.

Alleyne said that over the years the UWI had worked with the landlords by assisting with debushing and getting the electric company to install additional street lighting.

“Four years ago we met with the residents of Pleasant View particularly those persons who were offering their residences for accommodation and we explained to them lighting was an issue, the full security of the premises was an issue but we particularly flagged the debushing in the area,” he explained, adding that it resulted in a massive clean-up of the area by the Rural Development Commission.

“We thought that that would have taken care of the situation. However, if you walk through Pleasant View you would see that there is a problem again with debushing.”

He reported that on an annual basis the university took on the responsibility of debushing areas in close proximity to the campus.

However, he said landlords had failed to act on a suggestion to get together and clear vacant lots in the Pleasant View district while pointing out that he had searched extensively but could not locate the owners of some of the lots.

The students also heard from Oral Reid, chief of security at the campus, and Station Sergeant Stephen Griffith of the Police Crime Prevention Unit.

Reid lamented that the students at Pleasant View had not informed security personnel at the campus about the problems they were experiencing.

He said even though his office was primarily responsible for security on campus, it would not hesitate to assist those students who lived off campus by providing vehicular patrols within a five-mile radius and liaising with the police.

One by one, the students got up to give personal accounts of their encounters with criminal activity. Some expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the police.

One young man who was a victim of crime complained that the police were treating the matters as individual cases. He pleaded for greater attention to their concerns and pointed out that several young women lived in his apartment complex.

While Griffith could not give the assurance that they would be more police patrols in the affected areas, he provided police contact information for the students.

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