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Campus Policing Hope

by msecadm4921

From the June print issue of Professional Security.

We’ve reported a couple of times on a Metropolitan Police scheme to train retail staff as special constables. If it proves a success in London, the concept could go national. At an even earlier stage is a similar scheme for campuses, the Association of University Chief Security Officers heard at Easter.

As with Shopwatch, the retail scheme, the Met hopes to attract volunteers in a win-win deal – yes, the private sector partner has to pay for their staff while they do a special constable’s training at Hendon, but the retailer or campus will get a uniformed police officer patrolling their patch, one day a fortnight; the Met get more specials, bobbies on the beat; and the special progresses his career and gets personal satisfaction – and free travel on and off duty, not to be sniffed at in London (see our April edition, page 65).

Queen Mary trial

At the AUCSO meeting at Aston, Richard Mackenzie, office services manager at Queen Mary, University of London, outlined the story so far. The CampusWatch volunteers could be teaching or in-house security or other staff, or students, he said. When not on patrol, the specials are doing their everyday work, yet bringing their police training to bear: “Meaning an increased awareness of criminal activity and increased confidence in dealing with any crime-related issues on campus. All this provides a reassuring dedicated police presence across the premises.” The campus scheme is very much on the same lines as the retail one, which was trialled in Camden then launched also in Regent Street and Oxford Street in November 2004. Richard Mackenzie quoted Bill Briggs, head of group security for Dixons Group, among the major retailers who have volunteer staff in the scheme, praising the enthusiasm of the specials and how the staff development alone gives payback – and reduced losses.

Salary attractive

Afterwards, Richard Mackenzie (who has a military background) told Professional Security that the aim was to recruit volunteers before September, for training purposes (before the start of the academic year). In case of conflicts of interest, the student CampusWatch patrollers would not go around their own campus; they would go around other campuses, and other colleges’ specials would patrol Queen Mary. The scheme could be a way for students to begin a policing career; Richard Mackenzie made the point that a Met Police starting salary might be quite attractive to a 21 or 22-year-old graduate. The university is already co-operating with police; thefts are down, thanks to some basic crime prevention work, with the help of the local police crime prevention officer. As reported last issue, the London-wide Safer Neighbourhoods initiative – whereby mixed police and community support officer teams are based in neighbourhoods – is having a good impact on campuses and other businesses that want to tap into the resource. Queen Mary is letting their local police team use an old security lodge. With all these schemes – and to repeat, CampusWatch is not live yet – Richard Mackenzie and Queen Mary security operation manager Robert Hunt’s hope is that more uniformed patrols will reduce crime even more. There are questions: if a security officer is a CampusWatch special, who is his manager, when? That will take protocols between the uni and the Met. Despite that, Richard Mackenzie is excited about the potential benefits.

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