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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
'Bulldogs' taken off historic patrol
Oxford University
Officers have powers of arrest near the university
Oxford University is to overhaul its bowler-hatted private police force, the Bulldogs.

Officers of the force, which dates back to 1215, currently have the same powers as regular police constables within four miles of any university building.

Under new government rules for private police forces, the Bulldogs will lose their royal warrant, and with it the power to arrest suspects.

The university is seeking permission from the Home Office to transform them into new "proctors' officers".

'Costumed pantomime'

The move follows increasing concerns among students and the university authorities about the need to modernise the force.

Bulldog facts
Organised security for visits by President Clinton, Nelson Mandela and the Queen
Bulldogs average one arrest a year
Were responsible for the security of Oxford at night
Earlier this year market traders complained after the university police demanded they move delivery vehicles parked outside the university.

Students have also campaigned in favour of reform.

Oxford University Student Union president Will Straw, son of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, welcomed the decision.

"There is no need for this costumed pantomime in this day and age," he said.

"There is definitely a call for student safety to be upheld. We welcome the decision to give the Bulldogs a modern policing role."

The Bulldogs, consisting of three full-time and 20 part-time officers, will continue most of their current duties such as stewarding at ceremonies and exams and helping to investigate disciplinary breaches.

The 'Bulldog' name is thought to be a more recent development, originating from their resemblance to a popular Toby mug from the 1950s, which depicted Winston Churchill as a bulldog in a bowler hat.

Special ceremony

They are due to hand in their warrant cards at a special ceremony later this year.

The Oxford University constables, headed by the University Marshal, were formally recognised by an Act of Parliament in 1825.

The senior proctor, Professor Tim Softley, said: "Proctors have found the experience and support of the constables invaluable.

"We look forward to working with our colleagues in their new roles as proctors' officers."


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See also:

19 Aug 02 | Education
25 Mar 02 | England
14 Dec 01 | Education
01 Oct 01 | Education
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