Police have stepped up patrols around the campuses of Bradford University and Bradford College in an effort to cut down on harassment of students.

And people who make sexually inappropriate gestures to others have been warned it may actually be an undercover police officer they are leering over.

The operation is part of a push by the police, the college and university and Bradford Council to make students feel safer around the inner city campuses.

In the past year there has been complaints over students being sexually harassed and intimidated during both day and night.

After police learned of a student being harassed near the campus on Monday, they sent police to the area. One 21-year-old who made an “inappropriate gesture” to a female student was stopped by officers, who arrested him after finding out he was also wanted for a vehicle crime.

The issue was highlighted in November when students took part in a “Reclaim the Night” march from the University to City Park to demand the city’s streets be made safer for women.

After Monday’s arrest a police spokesman said: “A male was stopped after he was noted to be acting in an inappropriate manner whilst driving past a female student close to Bradford University. Although not committing an actual offence, his manner was such to make someone feel uncomfortable.

“By a strange stroke of luck, the male turned out to be connected to another matter that officers were investigating involving vehicle crime.

“The male was subsequently arrested for making off without payment.”

He will appear in court next Friday.

Police will continue to patrol the area, including sending undercover officers posing as students. The spokesman added: “Please ensure you treat everyone with appropriate respect as who knows, it may just be an undercover officer that you make an inappropriate comment to. Would you want the comment repeated in court? Then don’t say it.”

Steffy Bechelet, women’s and liberation officer at the University Student Union, said: “The relationship between the police and the university is one that is constantly growing. It has really progressed this year, police seem to be really taking it seriously and we hope it stays like.”

Umar Rafique, vice president of Bradford College student union, said: “It is important there is a police presence because it deters people from acting in a way they shouldn’t be acting. Everyone has the right to feel safe.”