Residents of Kilbarren Rise, off New North Road, allege that they must sometimes sleep in night shifts to protect their property from student theft and record antisocial behaviour. Supported by evidence from a CCTV system they installed in 2014, Delia and John Blatchford claim to have suffered “eight years of hell” because of unruly Exeter students. “We pray for rain,” Mrs Blatchford said, “we can have a decent night’s sleep if it rains, as it keeps them indoors… we get no sleep when it is term time.”
“Why does it have to be our life that is destroyed?” she continued.
“eight years of hell”
The “years of hell” began in 2008, the Blatchfords say, after a hot-tub was installed in their garden and a student climbed over the fence to urinate in it, stealing alcohol from a shed in the process. The student responsible was later dismissed by the University. Between January and April that year, the Blatchfords registered twenty instances of antisocial student behaviour with Devon and Cornwall police. In response to the complaints, Devon police deployed undercover police and dogs to try and deal with the potential culprits, but to no avail. The Blatchfords took matters into their own hands, installing a £7,000 wall and iron rail with burglar proof spikes to try and stop students attempting to enter their garden.
The CCTV system was later destroyed by a student who tore down one of the cameras – it was later replaced by £2,200 of University funds. Since then, the cameras have captured a number of incidents, including a recent spout of issues during Freshers’ Week this year.
In October, one video shows construction work equipment being slammed against a lamppost, clanging loudly in the early hours outside the Blatchfords home, while another shows a ‘For Sale’ sign being stolen from a neighbour’s house and left outside the Blatchfords.
One commenter suggested criminal records for students who cause public nuisance
“This is supposed to be the future elite. What is going to happen to this country? I really, really worry,” Mrs Blatchford said. She went on to suggest that the University should breathalyse students before they enter the city centre, a practice she has heard of performed in “another University,” barring them from entry if their blood-alcohol level is too high.
One commenter on the Exeter Express and Echo website candidly suggested criminal records for students who cause public nuisance, while another suggested a “1:00am curfew on all students until they learn to grow up.” Although, Mark Phillips, an Exeter resident who lives ten minutes from the Streatham campus, said that he had “never had much trouble with students,” and “had no relevant examples” of unacceptable student behaviour.