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Monday Week 25 saw panic among the shopkeepers of the establishments in Alexandra Square, as students were seen to be brandishing firearms on the bridge over the Underpass, located behind Greggs in the Square.
The students from Against The Wall Productions, had previously approached the campus Police and Security at the beginning of April, in order to gain permission for the event, which involved the use of replica firearms.
This was granted by Acting Head of Security, Mark Salisbury, and PC Wynne, of the University Policing Team, on the conditions that signs were placed around the area of the shoot while it was taking place, and the police were informed when the film would be shooting.
However, when the shooting of the film was taking place, it is reported that a member of staff at Greggs phoned the police, reporting a sighting of a male carrying a rifle.
A police patrol was deployed to campus in order to ascertain that the male was involved with the production.
PC Wynne said of the event: “Against The Wall Productions followed all the procedures that they were required to and no offences were committed.”
Salisbury said of the event: “Two Campus Security Assistants (CSAs) attended within minutes of being notified. The organiser of the production had advised me that these organised events were taking place at various times and locations across Campus. However my staff would need to attend reports of this kind as a precaution just to be safe.”
However, an anonymous source with close connections to the Security Lodge contacted SCAN to explain that members of campus Security had not been informed by Salisbury that the event would be taking place. This contact stated that at the time of the incident, staff were unaware of the fact that the firearms were replicas, and when approaching the students to confirm the absence of danger, they were potentially risking their lives.
Though signs had been put up, as agreed by the production company with the University, these were not visible to the staff in Greggs.
While Salisbury states that the incident was attended to “within minutes,” Julie Hurtley, the staff member at Greggs who reported the incident said it was over an hour after her initial report before a member of a staff from Security contacted her.
After leaving the premises of Greggs by the back door, Hurtley saw a young man running past with the replica firearm. She explained how she suspected it to be a replica, but still acted fast to report it in order to be absolutely certain.
Josh Asquith, director of the production, and founder of Against The Wall Productions, said: “Security have been supportive and understanding of the situation and handled it professionally and correctly.”
He added: “Knowing how the Police would respond in the event of a call, I am not surprised that they deployed an officer to attend Campus as a precaution […] for that I am very grateful.”
Speaking of what happened after the incident, he added: “Sadly the situation did cause a temporary suspension of the weapons use, but after discussing the situation through with him he has allowed us to carry on and finish our production.”
Hurtley stated that she had not been informed the event would be taking place, adding that “communication from the University is terrible,” explaining how the signs that had been placed were not visible to her and other members of staff in Greggs.
She also explained how this lack of communication from the University about other events taking place on campus, such as Open Days, had caused problems in the past, sometimes resulting in there being a shortage of products in the shop to meet with the demand.
Hurtley seemed to blame this for the problems that arose, but was grateful to the people involved in the production who apologised to her after the incident.
This view was seconded by Asquith, who said: “The main issue we found was communication. Whilst doing all organising through emails, some things fell through the cracks, although what happened is no-one’s fault.”