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AUCSO celebrates ‘best in class’ at AUCSO Annual Awards 2024

The Association of University Chief Security Officers (AUCSO), the leading organisation for security professionals working in Higher and Further Education around the world, has praised its members for ‘outstanding achievements across the year’ as it announces the winners of its Annual Awards 2024.

2024 has seen a record number of submissions for all award categories showcasing the amazing work that has been undertaken on university campuses both in the UK and across the world. The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner on the final evening of the AUCSO Annual Conference, hosted at The Lutyens Crypt and Treasury at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

The winners recognised for their exceptional work are:

AUCSO Security Officer of the Year
Winner: Tanya Forsyth, University of Strathclyde
Highly Commended: Ross Brown, Edinburgh Napier University
Highly Commended: Steve Stott, Coventry University

Tanya Forsyth has taken a leadership role representing Security Services at the University’s Safe 360 Group, a cross functional, collaborative group created to consider and improve measures to ensure the University Community feels safe, supported and secure. Tanya worked closely with the group in its role to recognise the life changing impact inappropriate behaviour can have on individuals across cultures and engaged with stakeholders to demonstrate support and encourage the calling out of this behaviour.

The judges added: “Tanya’s relentless pro-activity added to her being such a worthy winner. On one occasion, she led the team to support a student who had called the emergency line displaying poor mental health and threatening her own physical health. Tanya’s empathic approach de-escalated the circumstances prior to the Emergency Services arriving. As a result of her diligence the student’s safety was assured and the individual received appropriate care.”

AUCSO Security Team of the Year
Winner: Campus Security Team 5, University of Glasgow
Highly Commended: B Team, Swansea University

This team has been outstanding in the last year. It is the ‘go to’ team for all colleges and schools to contact requesting help and support, facilitating and risk assessing a range of staff and student events. The team also works closely with the Student Representative Council (SRC) to provide support for society events, elections and exams.

A particular incident occurred when a contractor working on scaffolding slipped and fell 40ft piercing his lower back on the scaffold rigging. The team deployed security officer who helped administer First Aid until the Emergency Services arrived, set up cordons knowing this would potentially be a crime scene and obtained witness details. The team took control of the incident and due to the experience, knowledge and confidence helped less experienced medical professionals reassess their actions which they agreed in hindsight was the best course of action.

The judges added: “In the last year the team has also facilitated visits from many VIPs including the First Minister and MP/MSPs including the Director General of MI5 Ken McCallum. These visits were disrupted by protesters and demonstrations which was challenging for the team but they were calm and professional manner, especially when under extreme provocation. This team has continuously delivered an exceptional and consistent service that enhances the student experience.”

AUCSO Security Manager of the Year
Winner: Tanya Kalsi, University of Birmingham
Highly Commended: Tracey McCarthy-Shaw, University of Brighton

Tanya has successfully spearheaded the launch of the Community Safety Team which has changed the safety landscape of the University. She has been indefatigable in her approach and led by example and generated excellent relationships internally and externally to champion the community safety approach.

Tanya’s work has built a team that puts prevention first, helping staff and students to feel safe and thrive. The team has implemented a proactive and innovative approach to safety within the community, delivering social media content, participating in student-led activities and supporting student wellbeing.

AUCSO Initiative of the Year
Winner: Security and Community, University of Northampton
Highly Commended: Community Safety Team, University of Birmingham

The judges praised the team for their commitment to ensuring that its security and community safety messages, strategies, and initiatives are relevant, engaging, and impactful for their student community. The team impressed judges by developing a new way of delivering their training content, creating interactive, immersive, and fun sessions that allow students to remain in a safe environment while learning about important safety topics.

The team was successful in its bid to the Home Office Safe Street acquiring virtual reality headsets known as “classroom in a box”. These allowed the team to integrate a security and community-based development program into the curriculum for digital, marketing, and media students. The team became actively involved in developing virtual reality tracks, merchandise, and educational literature related to various safety themes including staying safe on a night out, the dangers of open water and knife awareness. The utilisation of virtual reality technology by this team not only enhances engagement but also allows students to experience potential dangers in a safe and controlled environment.

Bill Blythe Award
Andrew Molloy: University of Liverpool

A new award for this year, the Bill Blythe Award, is named after the first recognised Chair of AUCSO who worked at the University of Liverpool. Hosting AUCSO’s 40th anniversary conference at the same institution provided the opportunity to commemorate this prestigious award by naming it after him. This award for outstanding service to the industry was awarded to Andrew Molloy from the University of Liverpool.

Andrew led the transformation of his team, moving the culture away from traditional perception of security to a more inclusive and engaging team of staff who offer support, wellbeing and safeguarding to the student community of the University of Liverpool.

Commenting on the winners, says: AUCSO Chair, Oliver Curran said:
“We have had some exceptionally inspirational nominations from University Security Teams both in UK and across the globe. All of the entries demonstrate the range of risks and challenges that our Security teams face on a daily basis, as well as the incredibly professional personnel that continually keep their communities safe with their innovative approaches.
“All of the shortlisted entries were very worthy winners showing consistently high levels of professionalism, integrity, dedication, and passion, and they are all a credit to their profession.”
AUCSO Chief Operating Officer, Julie Barker, added:
“The Awards Gala Dinner is always such a special evening where we celebrate how enormously proud we are of our members.
“As Oliver said all of the entries were incredibly worthy of recognition, and we have huge respect for the actions and outcomes of the winners who are truly exceptional in their dedication to the sector.”

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