Better security call

January 21, 2000

University employers are being urged to review campus security after a report by one staff union highlighted violent attacks on its members.

The Transport and General Workers Union has written to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association asking for guidance to be issued to institutions on fighting campus crime.

Crimes revealed in a survey of all T&G university branches included:

* Security guards pistol-whipped by car thieves at Queen's University, Belfast

* A security guard needed medical treatment after her soft drink was spiked with shaving foam at Ayr College

* Cleaners at a university in the south of England were terrorised by a naked student as they tried to clean student rooms.

Chris Kaufman, T&G national secretary, blamed the open nature of many campuses, drink and drug problems among both students and outsiders and increasing incidences of student mental health problems.

He said: "The results of the survey were startling and we now want to do more work. We don't want to end up like some American campuses, which have armed guards, but there are things that universities can do."

Universities say they already take security seriously. Many have installed security fences and closed-circuit television. The University of Hertfordshire, which says it has had problems with theft rather than violence, uses "quad" bikes to patrol the campus, while the University of Sunderland has two full-time police officers assigned to it by Northumbria police.

A number of staff unions are in discussion with managers at Coventry University to draw up guidelines over use of CCTV.

Michael Goldstein, vice-chancellor at Coventry, said: "We want to ensure that it will only be used in certain circumstances and ... that use is always justified and documented."

The T&G also wants universities to introduce more crime-awareness training, better lighting, attack alarms and self-defence training for staff.

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