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Aucso hails record conference

Organisers of the 2019 conference of the university chiefs of security association Aucso have hailed record numbers attending – and growing interest from outside the UK.

Trevor Jones, head of security at the University of Salford, Aucso chairman, told Professional Security that he was pleased with the record number of delegates at Aston, including 31 from outside the UK, such as Zurich, Nigeria, the United States and Australia. Those last two included the two latest exchanges of security managers; reciprocal visits between Jennifer Ciolfi of the University of Dundee and Mal Abley of the University of Melbourne; and Rus Drew of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and Ross Ferguson of Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh, respectively.

Trevor said that the association membership has risen from 143 to 215 in the last 15 months, mostly due to new joiners from Australia and Asia, besides Continental Europe. “We are now a world organisation; we are delighted to have members from around the world, because we all share best practice from wherever we come from, and we are all learning new ideas.”

He singled out a day one talk by Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and President of the umbrella body Universities UK. Trevor said: “It’s the biggest thing we have had for many years; it’s an enormous step forward for us. She was exceptionally well-received.”

While it may look at first difficult to see what Janet Beer has to bring to university security management – she’s a humanities scholar, an authority on modern American literature such as the writer Edith Wharton, and spoke on ‘a leadership perspective’ – it becomes more plain as she was a member of a recent taskforce on dealing with violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students.

That ties in with how security staff are providing what another speaker described as ‘pastoral obligations’, looking to the welfare and well-being (physical and mental) of students and indeed staff and visitors too.

The 2019 conference, like others in recent years, showed how campus security has moved on from the days of guards in high-vis jackets and v-neck sweaters with large bunches of keys opening buildings and doors in the morning and locking them again at night, to providing other services, such as access and identity cards, and offering first response to incidents.

The conference speakers’ topics reflected the wider range of topics that security managers and their departments are covering or at least having an input into; drug use on campus, the balance between ‘an open campus culture’ and protection of that campus, resilience, fire safety, crisis communications, and CBRN and counter-terrorism.

Aucso is about to take applications for its 2019 exchange programme. Trevor thanked CriticalArc the provider of campus safety communications software for sponsoring the programme and said: “I think the international exchange programme is proving its worth.”

More on the conference in the May and June 2019 print issues of Professional Security magazine.

The next, April 2020 conference host will be Les Allan of Heriot-Watt, who was among the speakers at Aston and who’s also among the invited speakers at the free to attend Security TWENTY 19 conference-exhibition in Glasgow on Tuesday, April 30.

Pictured are the Aucso committee and organisers; Aston host, acting head of security Caroline Bluck, is pictured seated right. Chief operating officer is Bernadette Duncan; treasurer Brian Schofield (Bath) and secretary Elizabeth Palicza (London South Bank). Regional chairs are Oliver Curran (University College London), Christine Beveridge (UEA), Adrian Dennehy (Cardiff Metropolitan), Richard Heath (Exeter), Geoff Brown (York), Laurence Perkins (Leicester), Les Allan (Heriot-Watt), Ray Wheatley (Dublin City), Dominique Van Acker (Ghent) and Russell Gammie (Monash).


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