Security network boosts information sharing across the University

‘Delivering safety and security through effective prevention, reassurance and response’ is the mission of the University’s Security Services team, and one that’s now supported by a network of Security Liaison Officers (SLOs). The SLO network was established in April 2013, following a 2012 review of key security issues for the University.

The review revealed that internal communication on security matters across departments needed improving. The solution identified by the Security Services team was the creation of a network of volunteer Security Liaison Officers across the University estate, responsible for keeping themselves informed about topical security information and sharing it with their colleagues. These volunteers would be people with an interest in security matters who also have the ability to influence security decisions in their own department.

The Challenge

In the first year more than 50 members of University staff signed up to the initiative. This response was warmly welcomed but it became apparent that keeping everyone updated with the diverse range of security information necessary was going to prove a challenge. Crime Prevention Design Advisor, Lesley Nesbitt says, ‘Crime levels on the University estate are low, but we can’t be complacent and we were aware that communication between departments needed improving.

‘In addition, the University’s new Security Policy requires every building to have its own Security Plan. Members of the SLO network needed to be trained to develop these, with advice and guidance from the Security Services team.

The benefits of the SLO initiative are being felt more widely too. Liz Kitchener, Head of Strategic Facilities Management at Estates Services says: ‘Establishing the Security Liaison Officer network has raised awareness for FM managers, and has helped to embed the importance of continuous review of security as business as usual.

‘On a day-to-day basis, it encourages good working relationships and underlines the message that we are stronger when teams and departments work together.’

Martin Boyt, Estates Projects & Information Manager at Saïd Business School, says: ‘I find the introduction of Security Liaison Officers a big plus in bringing University departments closer and aiding working together.  The support received from Security Services is fundamental in establishing this’

The Solution

A number of strong communication links were established to enable a two-way flow of information between the Security Services team and University departments, including:

  • induction workshops to explain the security issues that the University face which affect departments, staff, students and visitors, the specialist knowledge available to SLOs from members of the Security Services Crime Reduction team and the services on offer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year;
  • fortnightly briefing documents which feed back topical information from the partnership meeting between Security Services, Thames Valley Police, British Transport Police and Oxford City Council’s Street Wardens;
  • an annual SLO Conference which focuses on current issues and provides a networking opportunity for all SLOs.

The Outcome

The continuously growing SLO network of over 82 members (as of October 2015) has vastly improved communication between Security Services and University departments and enables a consistent approach to providing information about security, security standards and security incidents.

Lesley Nesbitt explained: ‘Working with the SLOs to develop their departments’ Security Plans is the biggest University crime prevention project I’ve been involved with to date. The plans have encouraged individuals not only to focus on the unique needs of their own building and location, but also to discuss issues with others and share knowledge to help boost their staff and student safety.’ 

Published January 2016