Enhancing UCL’s security service and experience

Photo of the Portico summer
Photo of the Portico summer
Security services are a vital part of the UCL operation. We are working alongside our security providers, Bidvest Noonan, to enhance the security service at UCL.

Security services are a vital part of the UCL operation. We are working alongside our security providers, Bidvest Noonan, to enhance the security service at UCL by making security teams more visible across the Bloomsbury campus; redefining roles to have clearer duties, accountabilities and better training; and using new equipment to enable us to deliver a more efficient, tech-enabled security service.

Our priority is to deliver the best security service and experience possible, and to continue to ensure the safety of UCL’s large community of students, staff and visitors.

Increasing the range of buildings supported by our security teams

There will be a shift away from desk-based roles within buildings, to more mobile, roaming security staff around campus which will allow us to cover a wider range of buildings and areas. Some buildings with high footfall and specific needs will continue to have a stationary member of security staff, but most buildings will be monitored by security staff pro-actively patrolling zoned areas.

Data shows that most incidents that require our security teams’ response happen outside of buildings and are responded to by staff that are in roaming positions. The proposed changes will increase our capacity to have more staff operating and visible across campus. With staff patrolling a wider area, it will allow security to react quickly to incidents no matter where they take place and to get to where they are needed most easily.

We also know that the way we work and study on campus has changed since the Covid pandemic. There are increasing examples of ’lone working’ where staff or students are alone in labs or office areas which do not have a stationed security presence. The proposed changes will mean more security staff patrolling zones. They are therefore likely to be nearer to ’lone workers’ and be better able to offer support to them.

Increasing the visibility of our security teams will build on their status as a reassuring and engaging presence for the thousands of students and staff on our campus every day, and as a first port of call to visitors to help them feel welcomed and supported with queries. This supports our wider aims to improve the experience of our community whilst on campus, and to open up UCL’s campus to integrate and engage even more closely with our local community.

Innovating with new technology and equipment

We will use new technology to help improve security across the wider Bloomsbury campus and to ensure consistent safety and security standards.

We will continue to roll out, and innovate with, technology, for instance with the SafeZone app , which can be downloaded by all members of our UCL community. In the event of an emergency, the app allows you to quickly share your location and details with the security team who will be able to get the right assistance to you. You can also flag yourself as ’lone working’ through the app to increase the number of patrols by your area.

Other new technology includes the creation of localised Security Smart Control Centres (SSCC) from which teams can monitor a wider area using tools such as CCTV in key areas, alarm monitoring systems and video intercoms installed for buildings.

How will these changes affect students and our wider staff community?

Students and staff across UCL will see a more visible, responsive security presence around the wider campus.

Some students and staff who work and study in buildings currently serviced by a desk-based security model may see changes in the way they use their building. These will be communicated locally, and anyone impacted will be provided with further information and the opportunity to give feedback on how these changes may be rolled out.

These proposed changes will not affect UCL East campus, Stanmore campus, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Royal Free campus and Chapple Place which use alternative providers for our security provision.

If staff or students have any further queries, they are able to.

How will these changes affect security colleagues?

Our security staff do vital jobs and are highly valued colleagues for us all. Their expertise will be invaluable in allowing us to make changes and improve the security offering provided for our campus and large community of students and staff.

Bidvest Noonan has entered a consultation phase with its recognised unions and security colleagues to understand how these changes may be best delivered.

The roles and responsibilities for security colleagues will be defined with greater clarity and consistency, with clearer routes and opportunities for career progression and more training to upskill staff and support their development. While there will be fewer roles in the new structure, there will be redeployment opportunities and staff will be offered a financially enhanced resignation scheme.

There will be ongoing opportunities throughout the consultation process for security colleagues and their Trade Union representatives to provide their feedback and to shape the decisions being developed. UCL’s wellbeing support service is available to all security colleagues to access confidential, 24/7 mental health support on UK Freephone 0808 196 5808, by texting ’Hi’ on WhatsApp to 07418 360 780 or Live Chat, and we are communicating further details about this directly to staff.

Our security staff are valued colleagues, and we remain committed to working closely with them and with Bidvest Noonan throughout these changes. We have invested over £10million per year to harmonise pay for our outsourced colleagues, and Bidvest Noonan security staff will continue to work to the same pay and key conditions as directly employed staff.
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