Brian Sims

AUCSO celebrates ‘Best-in-Class’ at Annual Awards 2023

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 members for their “outstanding achievements across the year” in announcing the winners of its Annual Awards 2023.

The winners were unveiled at a Gala Dinner on the final evening of the AUCSO Annual Conference, hosted at the iconic Signet Library in Edinburgh. Several practising professionals were recognised for their “exceptional work”.

Security Officer of the Year

Mark Neary (Manchester Metropolitan University) 

The Judges praised Neary for his immense bravery in tackling aggressive individuals who were in the process of robbing a retail outlet on campus. Neary arrived at the scene alone and was confronted – and then assaulted – by the alleged perpetrators while the latter were making their exit.

It was a serious and violent incident, but Neary clung on and continued to try to prevent the individuals from making good their escape, despite being ruthlessly assaulted and receiving injuries to both his face and body.

Neary refused to take any time off. He was back on duty the very next day.

Security Manager of the Year

Adrian Dennehy (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

Judges stated that Dennehy had worked tirelessly to introduce and embed innovative working practices into the Campus Protection Services team, while in parallel raising the profile and importance of security within the higher education sector.

As a highly active contributor and leader in his role as chair of the Wales region within AUCSO, Dennehy shares learnings from police and national agencies around issues such as county lines and the potential exploitation of Students.

Further, he has promoted the importance of – and the benefits to be derived from – sharing information across South Wales-based universities, while always ensuring South Wales Police and other agencies are engaged to better inform and enable the collective approach to countering such risks and threats confronting the higher education community.

Security Team of the Year

D Team – Colchester (University of Essex) 

Judges stated that the D Team was, in this instance, the ‘A’ team, citing the bravery that the officers in the team showed when dealing with a serious incident in a student accommodation block (which holds 200 students).

When presented with a situation involving a number of students who had raised welfare concerns regarding a fellow student, who had become violent and was in possession of a bladed weapon, the D Team members didn’t hesitate to take control of the situation, evacuating students and restraining the student in possession of the bladed weapon such that he couldn’t injure himself.

The team managed to evacuate all of the students, some of whom had sustained injuries, from the flat and lead them to safety, while also restraining the offender. The situation was kept under control while assistance was requested from two other members of the team and the Emergency Services.

They D Team members managed to support the restraining of the student, while other colleagues managed the situation on the ground, supporting the students involved and co-ordinating the Emergency Services response.

Inspirational nominations

Commenting on the winners, AUCSO chair Oliver Curran explained: “We received some truly inspirational nominations reflecting what turned out to be a challenging year for university security teams. The entries demonstrate the range of risks and challenges that security teams face on a daily basis. They also highlight the incredibly professional personnel that continually keep communities safe thanks to their innovative approaches.”

Curran added: “All of the shortlisted entries were very worthy winners, showing consistently high levels of professionalism, integrity, dedication and passion. All of our winners are a credit to their profession.”

AUCSO’s chief operating officer Julie Barker concluded: “We are enormously proud of our members. As Oliver said, all of the entries were worthy of recognition. We have enormous respect for the actions and outcomes of the winners who are truly exceptional in terms of their dedication to the sector.”

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