London Police launch Project LEARN as students return to school

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London Police Services are keeping an eye on students.

London Police Services launched Project LEARN (Liquor Enforcement and Reduction of Noise) on Sept. 6.

The project, which was first launched in 2007, aims to educate students on nuisance parties, open fires, noise, littering, and public urination in the city.

Cst. Sandasha Bough said students can expect an increased police presence around Fanshawe College, Western University, and downtown London.

The Fanshawe College Student Success and Here For You logos are shown. A young woman is smiling, sitting at a desk. Text states: A new semester is here. Access student services! We are here for you.

“We’ll be having officers on proactive patrol and community engagement throughout those areas,” she said. “It’s in response to community concern.”

Cst. Bough added that the initiative is just as much about law enforcement as it is about education.

“We’re letting the public know that, yes, we will be out there, we will be enforcing the law. We’ll also be educating students as well as neighbouring individuals in that particular neighbourhood,” she said. “The goal is to protect public safety and property and to help students celebrate responsibility.”

She said that students are not being asked to stop partying altogether, but simply to be aware of the law surrounding nuisance gatherings.

This school year also brings with it new by-laws regarding COVID-19. Indoor social gatherings are limited to 50 people, but Cst. Bough said that rule is often misinterpreted.

“Under 50 people at a residence, but that doesn’t mean under 50 people and that’s it,” she said. “It means you also need to make sure that you’re physically distancing from everybody, so six feet apart.”

She said in order to accommodate physical distancing guidelines, social gatherings should be limited to 10 or 15 if inside a smaller residence. She added that any students who have questions regarding COVID-19 public health guidelines should refer to the Middlesex- London Health Unit.

London Police officers attended 12 residences on Sunday Sept. 6 alone in response to noise complaints that were attributed to loud parties and music. Cst. Bough said that while most of the parties had dispersed by the time officers arrived, some parties remained in progress.

“The occupants and guests were cooperative and the police interaction was limited to education and warnings,” she said. “We did have officers able to use the opportunity this past weekend to provide the occupants and attendees with an education with respect to the bylaw.”

She said no charges were laid on Sunday Sept. 6, but that officers issued 25 by-law warnings and 5 provincial assents warnings.

The main goal of Project LEARN is education. Along with administrative and student partners at Fanshawe College, students will always have access to information regarding the law.

“We want to ensure students that you can celebrate the new year, being with your friends again, and just commencing all of these new things in your life,” she said. “But especially right now, with the pandemic going on, we want to ensure that they’re doing so safely.”

Project LEARN will remain in place until Sept. 25, 2020.