Greater Manchester Police has this morning released a statement in relation to concerns on social media around “unlawful posters” in the Manchester area.
It is believed to be in response to displays seen in the windows of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Birley and Cambridge halls of residence – where 1,700 students are currently self-isolating due to 99 students having tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) – and comes after the University stated it had been requested by the constabulary that “the posters must not break the law or they’ll have to be removed”.
The constabulary’s Superintendent from the City of Manchester policing team – who also heads up Operation Student Safe – made the statement addressing this on social media this morning.
He confirmed that GMP is yet to receive any reports concerning the matter.
It comes after Manchester Metropolitan University and Student Living were believed to have contacted the students currently self-isolating in the Birley and Cambridge halls of residence asking them to remove a the signs in an email that read: “We are contacting you all today to ask for the signs which are on display on the windows in your flat need to removed.
“Please ensure these are removed asap.”
Posters, signs and arrangements of post-it notes displayed in windows were visible from the streets, and photographs of which have been widely circulated throughout mainstream and social media over the weekend.
They were seen reading messages such as “HMP MMU”, “9k 4 What?”, “F*** Boris”, and “Tories out” among others.
After the request to remove the displays went onto receive widespread criticism by the students themselves and members of the public, MMU then took to social media yesterday evening to issue a public apology.
They stated the that the message “didn’t reflect the University’s view”.
The University said: “We apologise for the message sent to our students last night about posters in windows, it didn’t reflect the University’s view. We respect the rights of students to express themselves, but as requested by [Greater Manchester Police], the posters must not break the law or they’ll have to be removed.”
This then prompted calls on social media by many questioning how posters or the arrangement of post it notes could be seen as “break[ing] the law”.
It was also noted at the time that Greater Manchester Police were yet to make a public statement on the matter.
Now, an official statement response by Superindendent Richard Timson – in charge of Operation Student Safe – has been issued on social media this morning. It reads: “As far as we are aware, there have currently not been any reports made to GMP in regards to unlawful posters in the Manchester area.
“If this matter is reported to GMP, the content of posters would be reviewed with consideration made around whether any offences have been committed under the Public Order Act 1986.”