In 2022 the complete University Guide released a report detailing crime statistics in areas where students live. It highlighted the pressure that Universities are under to protect students and staff from robbery, burglary, violence, and sexual crimes. It is reported that on average there is approximately a 5% chance of being a victim of crime whilst on or near a university campus in term time while the worst-case scenario is as high as nearly 10%. Providing students with a safe environment is a key component in the overall success of your institution.
In 2015 the UK’s Government asked Universities to set up a task force to address a range of safety issues, the then UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid stated:
“Nobody should be put off going to University because of fears about their safety. If my children choose that path, I would expect my daughter to be as safe as my son on any campus in this country. This task force will ensure that universities have a plan to stamp out violence against women and provide a safe environment for all their students. We do not tolerate this behaviour in any part of society and I’m not prepared to let it take place on university campuses unchecked.”
The recommendations of the task force have been slow to implement, and each institution has taken a different approach, according to the former minister of state for universities.
University staff and students should feel safe; there is no doubt that technology is being integrated more and used to create a safer learning and working environment, where everyone feels protected. With a growing dependence on mobile devices, software app, IoT, and a drive to meet growing demands for hybrid working environments, higher education has had to rapidly adapt its technology over the last three years to modern, intelligent, and ‘always on’ solutions to solve their pain points.
AUCSO’s Julie Barker highlighted in an article shared with IFSEC Global the top five trends in the university security sector, and the common denominator is that it’s becoming more and more about protecting people, and not just buildings. She summarised:
“There are some key challenges facing universities in today’s fast-changing world and new threats are entering the sector every day. For example, the advance of tech and massive increase in cyber-crime across the globe are just two components, which are impacting on students and universities and set to feature centre stage in months to come.”
Whilst, Les Allen, AUSCO’s Chairman commented,
“It’s vital to remember that safer campuses attract students, and that reputation management is as important as asset protection. That’s why security and safeguarding services should not be seen as ‘prohibitors’ but become known as supportive enablers.” He continued, “This is an ideal time for university security services to improve professionalism, motivate and upskill their staff and make better use of technology to enhance their profile within the higher education environment.”
But technology that offers the ability to protect can also support employee well being. Employees in the security industry for example, are commonly subjected to verbal abuse, physical abuse, threats of violence, and other forms of abuse. Research conducted by the University of Portsmouth reported over 40% of security officers display PTSD symptoms, with many more experiencing other forms of mental illness or stress.
In today’s world, organisations use a variety of devices and communication channels, and the educational industry is no exception, with over 83%*of education staff using both a two way radio and smart device.
Outdated communications technology, coupled with limited time and resources often leads to departments and teams becoming disconnected and fragmented. This may not seem like an issue in day-to-day operations, but when the risk increases, the ability to effectively receive, exchange, and communicate information and/or decisions in a timely manner becomes increasingly critical.
In addition, employers can also build confidence by enabling self-assessments in real-time, help investigators review reactions in a situation, provide valuable insight for risk assessment in high-risk situations, act as a deterrent to antisocial and aggressive behaviour, and offer better training for their employees by providing a collaborative training module with predefined outcomes.
New communication technology advancements are narrowing the divide, empowering teams, reducing costs, enhancing safety processes and automating antiquated practices with innovative ones.
We’ve shared thoughts on the team-wide benefits, as well as key features and assets specifically for Universities.
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