Universities are being urged to make preparations to keep students safe as Freshers’ Weeks get underway across the UK. The advice has come from Mark Morgan, a former Merseyside Police Superintendent, who is now running a pioneering, police-led, national initiative to keep venues, such as bars, pubs and clubs, safe and secure for customers and staff.
The initiative is called Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI), which was developed at the request of the Home Office by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), a police-owned organisation that works alongside the Police Service around the UK to deter and reduce crime.
Mark explained that Freshers’ Week should mark the start of an exciting time for young students as they make new friends, have fun, start spending their loans, avoid having to explain to parents about being late home – and of course, looking forward to starting their studies and their careers beyond.
However, it can also be a time of concern because much of the partying in a vibrant, care-free atmosphere will be focused around alcohol with many of the students having left home and becoming responsible for their own welfare for the first time.
He said: “The coming weeks will bring challenges to the towns and cities who host our further and higher education establishments with the influx of new students and Freshers’ Weeks. Because of the impact of COVID, we are likely to see two new year groups coming together for the first time and some students experiencing bars and clubs for the first time too.
“Student vulnerability is a major concern. In addition, many venues will be employing new students as staff, so venue operators should be reviewing their practices around sensible drinking and efforts to reduce vulnerability. It is important venues strike the right balance between ensuring students have the fantastic experience they crave whilst ensuring they are safe and free from harm.”
Licensing SAVI brings together for the first time all the information that licensees in England and Wales need to promote the four, all-important Licensing Objectives: Prevention of Public Nuisance, Prevention of Crime and Disorder, Protection of Children from Harm, and Public Safety.
Licensing SAVI is independent from the alcohol drinks industry and is backed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and Project Servator, a police-led vigilance scheme to deter terrorist attacks at crowded places.
Available as an online self-assessment, Licensing SAVI brings together definitive information on effective management practices and operational security including some straightforward safety measures – many of which can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost and some which licensed premises may not have considered before. Importantly, completion of the self-assessment can lead to Accreditation and an Award with a Star-Rating for display to show the efforts undertaken to enhance safety and security.
Mark encourages managers of venues on-campus and in towns and cities with colleges and universities to:
Prepare in advance: Planning is key and you can seek help from your local police and council licensing teams to problem solve reasonably anticipated risk. This will allow for appropriate support if necessary and for your venue to be included in response plans for the wider local area. This should also ensure you are able to adapt to other events nearby which could impact upon you. You should also:
- Check Premises Licence conditions to ensure plans are compliant, especially when considering using space differently such as outside areas which may not have been used before
- Submit Temporary Event Notices where necessary as early as possible
- Respect customers who may still want to social distance and wear masks following the lifting of statutory COVID-19 restrictions
- On the most important occasions, consider ticket-only access and whether you need the additional support of Security Industry Authority (SIA) registered Door Supervisors
- Review your policies and risk assessments to ensure they are fit for purpose
- Record changes to operating practices in risk assessments and audit trails.
Brief your staff: Update staff on procedures and management practices, which could include:
- Challenge 21/25 age-identification schemes to manage underage drinkers and remind staff it is an offence to serve a drunk person (or on behalf of drunk person)
- Emergency procedures, such as how to respond to alarms and the location of fire exits and the need to keep them uncongested; and to stop serving and call police in the event of any tension or disorder
- How to manage the number of customers to avoid exceeding venue capacity and how large numbers could influence departure in response to critical incidents
- Ensure nominated staff know how to use your CCTV system to ensure it is fully operational and are able to download footage
- Consider safe and controlled dispersal from your venue when events finish
- Inform staff of the named Designated Premises Supervisor or appropriate manager
- Explain the different types of vulnerability and how vulnerable people can be supported, such as by contacting friends or family on their behalf, as opposed to asking them to leave a venue where they could then become at greater risk.
- Run sensible drinking promotions and make free water available
- Use polycarbonate or similar drinking vessels and decant any bottles to reduce risk of injury or harm, that could result from accidents or disorder
- Clear empty glasses and rubbish quickly and remove to secure storage
- Display numbers for reputable taxi companies, signposting to nearby transport hubs.
The terrorist threat is ‘substantial’ which means an attack is ‘likely’. Crowded places are particularly at risk. Managers and staff will need to be vigilant for anything out of the ordinary or that doesn’t feel right no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Call your local police on 101 or in an emergency 999.
Contact Licensing SAVI
About Police CPI
Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI) is a police-owned, not-for-profit organisation which delivers a wide range of innovative and ground-breaking crime prevention and demand reduction initiatives to support the UK Police Service, Government and the public. Senior police officers control and direct the work Police CPI carries out on behalf of the Police Service.