The Mirror hears that the University is now seeking to hire a bunch of bouncers, sorry, we mean a security firm to undertake the clamping on campus. This tender has been taken up we understand by a local firm, who were recently applauded in the TV series Dragons Den. Again it is rumoured that those running Security are quite taken with this team who controls 90% of the bouncing, sorry, security in Lancaster town centre. Does this mean that the powers that be wish to see both portering and security eventually taken over by these kinds of firms? Will we eventually see the likes of security firms wandering our campus, black bomber jackets and polished heads to boot? What has been a worrying development is that we hear those patrolling on the clamping have had the word ‘security’ clearly printed across their jackets, when in fact they are not the security professionals that work in the reception office.
Of course with an audit recently gone in on the future operation of security and portering, there is a fear (one that has been there for some years now) that these kinds of firms might soon become an everyday reality. Other universities have gone down a similar path with the University of Wales taking on Carlisle Security in 2008 supporting existing staff. One or two of these security firms have been set up by ex-students and may seem attractive to those institutions that wish to save money and deregulate their normal services, with minor duties being the first notch in a slippery slope to full private control. Of course this brings into context not just the issue of safety, but of approachability. Who would you rather approach over a problem or in a time of need? An experienced, friendly and vetted by the university porter/security officer, or a temporary, interchangeable, privately vetted bouncer?
Such a move to privatise the security sector on campus would send a very negative and worrying message to prospective students (and their parents), especially as Lancaster is desperately trying to reach the lofty heights of Oxbridgedom in the league tables; such antics would possibly back fire. Oxford and Cambridge have porters, I believe, not gorillas, I mean bouncers, oh bugger: private security.