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A recent Freedom of Informationrequest has highlighted gaps in training offered to security staff. In particular, some roles seem to lack specialist training in mental health.
The information obtained from the Freedom of Information request showed that most training was taught centrally by the University. The courses delivered within or by the SecurityTeam were ACT courses which main-ly identify threats, First aid recertification and conflict management. Aside from the ACT courses, all courses were offered in house only, not contracted and between 2018-2020, the six ACT courses which include ‘How to identify and respond to suspicious behaviour’, ‘What to do in the event of a bomb threat’ and ‘Firearms or Weapon Attack’ were initially only offered in house but in 2021 were offered to contracted as well. Con-sequently, externally contracted employees will potentially not be offered the same training as those employed by the University.
The information provided by the University highlights which security roles are offered which training. The amount of mental health training is immediately concerning as the three roles of Head of Security, Security Operations Assistant and Deputy Security Manager have been offered no mental health training in the last four years. The Security Shift Supervisor at Night does not receive Mental Health First Aid but does receive Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education. On the other hand, the Patrol Officer has no Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education training but does receive Mental Health First Aid training.
All courses involving mental health are offered inperson as opposed to online but they are taught centrally by the University in house rather than being taught in house and contracted.
It is essential that security are well equipped to offer mental health support as due to the replacement of porters with security staff, for many students security is now their first port of call. In October there were concerns that NightSafe were unable to return to the streets to provide essential services due to Covid-19 and their absence highlighted how key it is for University students to have access to mental health support 24/7.
Mental Health training does not appear to be the only gap in security staff training. The Head of Security, Se-curity Operations Assistantand Deputy Security Manager have no Equality and Diversity Training and similarly to the Mental Health Training,Equality and Diversity training is taught in house by the University, potentially leaving contracted staff out. Both the Security Officers and Security Shift Supervisor at Night do not receive Incident Re-porting and Investigation training and the Security Shift Supervisor at Night did not receive a Covid-19 Return to Campus training. These gaps in training are especially concerning in the current climate. For example, earlier this academic year, there was deep concern after a number of break ins and security breach incidents reported by students living in Halifax accommodation.In November, personal stories were released by York Student Solidarity Network that “the theft and potentialthreat of knives was reported to security who realistically did nothing to reassure people that we were safe...”.
YUSU requested a heavier securityand police presence around campus,but a police presence would arguably do little to reassure students they were safer.
It was also requested that there is “a commitment to more regular up-dates on security and adequate well-being support.”
Currently, security at the University must do more to make students feel safe on campus and training would greatly improve this.
The University stated on the obtainment of the Freedom of Information Request that “All in-house securitystaff are First Aid at work trained and have also completed either a one or two day Mental Health First Aid training course. Contracted security staff are required to hold current First Aid at work qualifications and current SIA door supervisor qualifications.”
When asked if night and security staff receive adequate training, especially in regards to mental health, theUniversity said that: “the wellbeing and safety of our students is paramount to all our staff. As a result, all security and reception staff undergo mental health awareness and first aidtraining. Training days are also built into accommodate new learning to support staff so that they have the right knowledge in signposting students to the right support networks.”
We also contacted YUSU Community and Wellbeing Officer, Carly Precious, who said:“All University security staff are meant to have first aid training and be part of the Mental Health First Contact Network.If the University is failing to provide this training to security staff, they are failing to fulfill a reasonable duty of care to both students and security staff ”.