Safety First: An Interview with the University’s Head of Security

University campuses aren’t always the safest places to be, even for students. Whether it’s recent stories of muggings on the University Park campus, or the wider acknowledgement of gun crime in the United States, students have reason to be concerned.

It is certain that the threat of a school shooting is much smaller in this country than in the US, and our campuses are generally a very safe place, but students may still have worries. I spoke to Gary Stevens, Head of Security at the University of Nottingham, to discuss safety on campus.

To what extent does gun crime in the US affect your security operations at UoN?

‘Our campus security teams work 24/7/365 to keep our community safe from crime’

Our campus security teams work 24/7/365 to keep our community safe from crime of any sort, backed up by constant patrols, an extensive CCTV camera network and excellent liaison with Nottinghamshire Police.

When it comes to gun crime, it is important to remember that the USA and UK have very different gun control legislation and that gun crime in the UK, compared to most other places in the world, is thankfully a rarity. By any measure, Nottingham as a city is one of the safest in the country for students.  

Of course, we are mindful of events around the world and constantly look to learn lessons from our colleagues at home and overseas to ensure we keep our community safe from any sort of harm.  

There have been news reports calling for terrorist training sessions at schools across the UK. Do you believe this kind of training is necessary at the level of higher education? 

‘Security teams at Nottingham undergo regular training and exercises’

Security teams at Nottingham undergo regular training and exercises to prepare to meet any number of major and minor incidents – from fires to floods to crimes. I am not aware of the specific reports you mention regarding schools, but I can assure you that our current levels of training and preparedness are appropriate.

Do you consider an attack on the university to be a significant threat?

One of the great virtues of our University is to provide an open and welcoming public space for our staff, students, and members of the public. Of course, the counter point is that maintaining such an open public space is not entirely without risk. However, we consider these risks to be wholly manageable within our current approach to managing crime and safety and not presenting a significant threat. 

Is the UoN security team trained to respond to threats such as an active shooter on campus? 

Our security teams are well trained to meet any number of eventualities and work very closely with Nottinghamshire Police. While you would not expect me to go into operational details for obvious reasons of security, I can assure you that we have methods of working for such an event, but would also want to stress to Impact readers that current intelligence indicates that such an event remains very unlikely. 

What advice would you give students who may be concerned about the possibility of this kind of incident? 

‘Your campus security teams are here to ensure your safety’

Fundamentally, please do not be concerned. Your campus security teams are here to ensure your safety, and if you ever have a concern, come and talk to us. In fact, come and say hello anytime you see us, we don’t bite and we love chatting with our students. 

On a more serious point, we publish lots of helpful and advice and guidance to our staff and students on Safety Office webpages, including the latest ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ advice issued by National Counter Terrorism Policing. It’s worth Impact readers taking a look to familiarise themselves with the approach.  

What response would you advocate to students who found themselves threatened by this kind of event while at university? 

Contact Security if safe to do so on our Emergency number – 0115 951 8888 or ext 18888 – which is worth storing on your phones for future reference. You can also email us at bw-security@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk and follow the standard advice issued by National Counter Terrorism Policing to all citizens in the UK – ‘Run, Hide, Tell’

Esme Johnson

Featured image courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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