Campus security must not fall

February 2018 Editor's Choice, Integrated Solutions, Conferences & Events, Associations, Training & Education

The Campus Protection Society of Southern Africa (Camprosa) held its annual conference in the second half of 2017 at the Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge in the Pilanesburg Game Reserve. As we have come to expect, the conference was well attended and addressed numerous issues that were particularly important to the higher education fraternity in 2017, as well as those issues campus security teams seem destined to deal with in 2018. Hi-Tech Security Solutions reports on some of the presentations delivered over the two days of the conference.

The current Camprosa Executive Committee has been elected to serve until 2019 and consists of:

• Derek Huebsch, President,

• Mokgawa Kobe, Vice President (Chair of Central Cluster),

• Victor Khetani, Chair of North West Cluster,

• Keith Witbooi, Chair of Western Cape Cluster, and

• John Tunstall, Executive Secretary.

Facilitated once again by Ken Annandale, the conference included international guest speakers from IACLEA (International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators) as well as a number of local speakers. A panel discussion was also held in which a number of pressing issues facing campus security personnel were covered. Sponsors of the 2017 conference included:

• Chase for Smart Universities

• Twotone Print

• SALTO Systems

• Powell Tronics

• Thorburn Security

• FS Systems

• Stallion Security

• Hi Tech Security Solutions

• G4S

• Cardworx ID

• Securitas SA

• IDTek Solutions

David Bousquet, President of IACLEA started the ball rolling with an overview of IACLEA and its role in campus security since 1958. The demands on the organisation have changed dramatically over the years as it expanded internationally, and the organisation has built an experienced team to help it deal with new issues arising on tertiary education campuses around the world.

Part of the services the association offers included training programmes, which incorporates distance learning courses to allow members from other countries to attend, with certifications available to attendees whether attending one of the IACLEA conferences in person or via webinars.

All the 2017 Camprosa Conference attendees.
All the 2017 Camprosa Conference attendees.


The Fees Must Fall demonstrations brought the issue of campus security into the spotlight across South Africa in an unpleasant way last year. Major General Zephania Mkhwanazi was on hand to delve into the issue of what the role of SAPS played and should play in future on campuses as well as how security operations should be working with the police.

Mkhwanazi started with a brief overview of the demonstrations as well as some insights into the intra- and inter-campus politics that seemed to fan the flames of violence. He then went on to speak about the pillars of the interdepartmental intervention plan and how this works to resolve the situation while involving all concerned parties.

The first pillar is mass communication in which a broad communications plan is rolled out in the media. The goal was to spread the message government was trying to convey and mobilise as many sectors of civil society to support the right to protest, but to do so peacefully. The communication plan also included the requirement to make timely and accurate information available to the news media to support accurate reporting on the issues.

The second pillar is that of safety and security. While the issues at hand were important and sensitive, and the constitution allows for freedom of speech, Mkhwanazi noted that SAPS has a constitutional mandate to maintain public order and address crime. In the campus scenario, this was accomplished through various means, including enhanced police visibility, working with other security agencies for improved effectiveness with clearly established roles and responsibilities, reporting lines.

SAPS also took the lead in monitoring and co-ordinated operational deployment wherever necessary as part of the third pillar of implementing a multi-disciplinary approach that included the Department of Higher Education & Training, joint operations committees, local and national police operations as well as the various departments and service providers to the educational institutions. This cooperation allowed for faster decision making and action when problems arose, and it strengthened the communications between all parties, specifically between SAPS and the institutions.

The fourth pillar is that of the legal and regulatory framework within which all parties operated (with the exception of some student bodies and instigators). Mkhwanazi explained this meant that all the relevant laws and legal procedures were enforced, including the constitutional right to peaceful protests, but not the violation of the rights of other people.

The fifth pillar is the national operational plan which sees all role players operating in an integrated manner on a national level as well as at a local level on individual campuses.

While the outcome of the Fees Must Fall campaign can be debated, the joint operations highlighted a few challenges which, when dealt with, will help to streamline future operations. One of these includes the lack of a uniform approach to the police having access to campuses and ineffective general access control at some institutions.

In addition, even with the violence involved in the protests, some institutions did not offer their full cooperation to SAPS, and some withdrew cases of criminal conduct. Similarly, a lack of cooperation in the pursuit of criminal charges negatively impacted SAPS’ ability to ensure quality prosecutions. The lesson learned is that dealing with situations like this requires full cooperation and information exchange between the various parties, as well as the broad adoption of policies as to how issues (including those such as healthcare) should be handled.

This topic of clear communications was also one of the key issues in the panel discussion at the conference.

Security within the New Norm

Arguably, the most interesting interaction at the conference was the panel discussion held under the title Security within the New Norm, hosted by Ken Annandale with panellists:

• Dr Diane Parker, Deputy Director General, Department of Higher Education for Universities,

• Major General Mkhwanazi from SAPS,

• Roland September Acting Executive Director, Properties and Services UCT,

• Derek Huebsch, Director Security Services NMU and President of Camprosa, and

• Paul Maritz, ex-SRC President, NWU.

Huebsch started the discussion by noting that the new norm for security is definitely not normal. No matter what campus security plans for, it can expect surprises that it had not considered beforehand, meaning that while ‘normal’ security operations need to continue, teams must be ready for anything. He was backed up by September, who noted that adaptability is key to campus security operations of the future. He also noted that social media is a vital tool in gathering intelligence as well as communicating and interacting with students and the outside world.

Parker continued this line of thought, noting that communication between all parties is critical to effective safety and security of everyone. It often happens that incidents result from misunderstandings and ineffective communications, which can be avoided by making a concerted effort to make sure channels of communication are always open. Along with this comes the need for responsibility, responsiveness and leadership which needs to be instilled in all parties.

Maritz experienced the upheavals in 2016 as well as previously, and his approach reflects Parker’s comments. By allowing freedom of expression and then addressing the protestors and sitting down to talk with the leaders, NWU was able to prevent the loss of any teaching time while dealing with the legitimate problems some students faced. The key was open communication with real leaders and not with those who had ulterior agendas. He also noted that the NWU campus he was based on has many poorer students, for whom the loss of teaching time and access to the campus Wi-Fi network can cause problems, probably assisting the institution in resolving the problem by addressing legitimate concerns of many students.

Even though he comes from a different perspective, Mkhwanazi agreed that communications is key to dealing with the new norm. At the same time, he said the issues we will be faced with require new ways of addressing them as the traditional ways don’t work anymore. In a political context, the conflicts between parties often escalates demonstrations into violent protests and in these scenarios, again, new ways of handling the conflicts and opening the lines of communication between all parties is key.

The microphone was then opened to the floor where the audience was able to ask the panel questions which were then discussed by the panel members. The questions reflected a variety of issues which are pertinent to today’s campus life and the problems often encountered by security teams. The answers from the panel reflected an industry that is transforming and developing in a new and different way of dealing with real life. And real life is what a campus today is: it is a microcosm of society at large and therefore has all the issues and confusion we find in our environment in an enclosed space.

Dealing with threats

While demonstrations such as those witnessed in the Fees Must Fall campaign may not be common in other countries, in his second appearance on the stage, IACLEA’s president, David Bousquet, assured attendees that all campuses have violent threats to deal with, including seemingly random shootings for no reason. This is why every campus should have a Threat Team that is trained and able to assess and coordinate a response to dangerous situations.

Bousquet highlighted that each team must develop strategies to intervene, interrupt, and mitigate threats posed by students, faculty, staff, visitors and others unaffiliated with the campus. This is not something that can be devised as soon as a threat occurs, but must be planned beforehand to allow for effective intervention. The teams must also comprise different people with different skills and views to allow the collective to be most effective. Depending on the situation, interventions can consist of mediation, counselling, disciplinary action and even civil or criminal action.

Importantly, Bousquet noted that most incidents of violence are not random or impulsive, but planned and even discussed with others before the incident. The ‘violence continuum’ highlighted consists of four stages: Ideation, planning, preparation and then implementation. Campus secur-ity operations should therefore be on the alert for indications of a problem in order to hopefully prevent violence. Of course, one conversation does not make a riot, but continued observation points operatives in the right direction.

The tools for the job

Risk Diversion’s Peter Fryer delivered a presentation on the investigative and support technologies available to campus security operations. While the ideal situation would be to allow students to voice their concerns in an open and constructive manner, this is not always going to happen and the camps security operatives could need the equipment to assist them with keeping the peace and collecting evidence.

Fryer took the audience through a number of options, from non-lethal (or ‘less than lethal’) options such as tasers, which are a good deterrent without the permanent damage a bullet or even a rubber bullet may cause. He then looked at ways of collecting evidence, which includes a range of body-worn cameras, both the type that can be attached to a security officer’s uniform as well as the type that can be attached to headgear or sunglasses.

Keeping with the surveillance focus, Fryer also touched on evidence collecting, such as via automated number-plate recognition (ANPR) systems, as well as the type of image required to collect a number plate with a good level of confidence. He also showed how choosing the wrong cameras can see operations ending up with a useless image from which there is no chance of extracting a number plate. Your choice of camera is not simply a matter of price or pixels, or even choosing one that says it is HD.

Finally, Fryer also offered some insight into how social media can be used for intelligence purposes and real-time decision making as a result of keeping a finger on the pulse of what is happening in various locations. He offered an insight into the information collected from social media during the Fees Must Fall saga and how this data could be used to prevent or mitigate serious incidents.

In-house security update

Following the recent campus upheavals, many institutions were required to rethink their security processes as some of the complaints were levelled at the insourcing versus outsourcing issue. Professor F. Mazibuko and Director S. Chauke from PSIRA were on hand to offer insights into the regulations pertaining to the issue of insourcing your security operations.

Mazibuko and Chauke noted that an in-house security operation is required to adhere to the same security rules and regulations as a third-party security provider. The officers and other personnel will be required to undergo the required training and be certified according to PSIRA regulations.

Some of the requirements in-house security operations need to take heed of (and there are many others), include

• Registering security personnel with the regulator,

• Respecting the constitution in terms of the right to assemble peacefully to demonstrate, picket and present petitions,

• Compliance with a code of conduct for safety officers,

• Report and cooperate with SAPS when a serious incident occurs (for example, the dispersal of crowds is a SAPS function), and

• Identify and diffuse possible conflict before it escalates into violence.

Mazibuko and Chauke then went on to highlight some of the lessons learned from the Fees Must Fall saga. These include the importance of deploying properly trained security guards who are able to manage their own emotions in a highly emotive situation. These lessons also included vulnerabilities in SAPS’ response as well as the danger in the use of non-registered companies that employ non-registered guards, some of whom are foreigners.

PSIRA will be working with the industry to develop standards for campus security as well as training standards aimed at the education environment.

Following another successful Camprosa Conference, the Camprosa Conference 2018, is already in the works. It will be held from the 16th to 19th September 2018 at the Spier Wine Farm in the Western Cape – which will probably make it the best attended conference in Camprosa’s history.

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