Food thieves face police, warns porter


College authorities have warned that CCTV will be installed at Lady Margaret Hall in an attempt to catch students allegedly stealing food, adding that anyone caught could face rustication and possible police action.
Posters put up in the Hall on Wednesday and signed by Head Porter Lawrence Le Carré warned, “Someone has been taking food which has been purchased by other students…I have been invited by a delegation of students to catch this person. If you are caught it could well end in you getting rusticated and not getting a degree. This may well ruin your ambitions in life and get you a police record.”
Despite claims that they were “invited by a delegation of students,” the posters have been criticised for being put up without the JCR Committee’s knowledge.
Sports Rep James Ibbertson-Price said, “I think this is pretty invasive. They should have told the JCR Exec about this first and we could have talked to everyone about it. Stealing food is something which we can work out ourselves without resorting to this sort of thing. And I also doubt the University would appreciate thousands of pounds being spent on cameras just to stop people stealing food.”
Former JCR President David Tan also criticised the College’s failure to consult students, and he warned that their actions would have negative repercussions. “Even if food is being stolen, colleges are supposed to operate on a level of trust and I don’t think CCTV is right or necessary. There was a backlash against Hertford JCR when they tried to put up cameras in the JCR, so I’d imagine the same would happen here,” he said.
Students agreed that they did not see food theft as a particularly big problem in LMH. JCR Exec member Freddie Williams said it was no more serious than in any other college. “If he’s [Le Carré] just doing this on the basis of a couple of people stealing food from communal kitchens that’s pretty petty. You’re always going to get a couple of people nicking a bit of bread or something in any college, but this just seems unnecessary,” he said.
In an email sent out to LMH students on Wednesday night, JCR President Marlene Cayoun condemned the College’s failure to notify them of the scheme. “Although taking peoples’ food is never good, we can’t have people making threats as to the consequences of it on the part of the College or the JCR without their approval,” she said.
Le Carré claimed he had typed posters at the request of a group of students complaining about food theft. “I have not put up any posters. I was asked to type some stuff up for a group of students, I just typed what they wanted,” he said.
Le Carré added that the threats made in the posters were designed as scare tactics rather than real measures. “We have no intention of putting up any cameras,” he said. “The students concerned wanted to frighten the thief. Everyone makes such a song and dance about us not doing enough to stop thieves, and when we take do take action they make a song and dance about it. There are no cameras and the thief is free to steal what he or she wants,” he said.
Junior Dean John Stokl admitted that he was aware of the posters, adding that no such action would have been taken without the approval of the College. 
Cayoun encouraged students to come to the JCR Exec with their problems rather than reporting them to the porters. “It makes our job much easier if you approach us with these issues before heading to the lodge,” she said. “If any student feels their property is not properly protected, we will of course look into possible solutions as a JCR.”
She also hoped that the incidents would not affect the College reputation, saying, “Isolated instances do need attention but shouldn’t be taken to represent the general picture at LMH.”
Other students were sceptical that the threats were entirely serious. “It’s quite an extreme thing to do, but I really doubt they’re going to kick people out of uni just for stealing a packet of crisps,” one first-year student said.


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