1. AC O
Association of Colleges
Tackling and Preventing
Gang Problems in
A Review of Good Practice
Association of Colleges London Region
Executive Summary 2
The experiences of London colleges 4
Approaches to tackling and preventing gang
problems in London Colleges 6
Summary of good practice 16
Supplementary legal guidance for colleges 19
Supplementary communications guidance for colleges 22
Key contacts - colleges’ partner organisations 26
Summary of gang research survey responses 26
Tackling and preventing gang problems is an important challenge
for London’s communities to overcome and, as this report
highlights, it is an area where London’s colleges can and do make
a significant positive contribution.
London colleges really do change the lives of individuals and help
to transform communities. They engage people at risk of
involvement with gangs in purposeful activities and support and
encourage them to achieve and progress in life. Colleges make a
positive contribution by promoting respect and cohesion among
diverse communities of students. London colleges have also
developed a range of strategies to make their campuses and
learning centres safe and supportive environments for students to
I hope the findings and good practice suggestions of this report will
stimulate a lively discussion within the college sector and beyond
about how colleges can contribute to tackling the problem of gangs
and ensuring student safety.
Chair of Association of Colleges London Region and Principal of
South Thames College
4. Executive Summary
The impact of gangs in London has become an increasingly
important issue and one which London colleges are concerned
about. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Department
for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) are concerned
about this issue and interested in the role that colleges can play
in tackling and preventing it. This report, based on input from
London colleges, aims to take stock of the issues and identify
good practice in tackling and preventing gang-related problems.
The good practice suggested by London colleges covers areas
such as information gathering, college ethos, student awareness
of gang issues, effective use of college staff and disciplinary
powers, security and student safety systems, collaboration with
local partners including police and schools and reputation
management. Colleges also suggested joint actions that could be
facilitated by AoC London including research into successful
students, coordinating exclusions systems, establishing models
for cooperation with schools and police and developing
information sharing between colleges. There are also
opportunities for colleges and AoC London to contribute to policy
discussions with DIUS, the Mayor of London and GLA, the
Metropolitan Police and Transport for London.
Section 1 introduces the report and sets out its broader context.
Section 2 outlines the problems and kinds of gangs experienced
by London colleges. Section 3 offers examples of the approaches
taken by colleges to tackle and prevent gang problems. Section 4
summarises the good practice suggested by London colleges.
Supplementary guidance for colleges on legal and PR issues and
contact details of key partner organisations are included in
1BBC news, 15 December A record 29 young people were violently killed in London in 20081, many in
2008, Mapping UK’s teen gang related incidents. The Metropolitan Police has identified 171 gangs in
murder toll – see references London2. Public concern about this issue has been met with a political response
section at end of document for in London and nationally. Youth crime and gun and knife crime are targeted in
the Mayor of London’s official priorities and budget plans. A national cross-
2Metropolitan Police Service departmental government strategy on tackling gangs led by the Home Office was
Response to Guns, Gangs and initiated in September 2007. DIUS is exploring the role colleges play in tackling
Knives in London. gangs to feed into the government’s strategy and has expressed interest in
colleges sharing good practice with each other. The Metropolitan Police are
targeting gang, gun and knife crime in schools, colleges and universities and
have identified a need to work more closely with London colleges and AoC
Colleges are keen to work with the government and other organisations to tackle
and prevent gang problems. 88% of the London colleges contributing to this
research had concerns about gangs in their communities and most have
experienced problems either inside or out of college that they believe to be gang-
This report is the culmination of research undertaken in 2008 by AoC London
which aims to take stock of the current problems, identify good practice and
provide a basis for AoC London and its member colleges to engage with the
policy debate. The research included a survey questionnaire sent to 53 London
colleges (of which 43% responded) and nine follow up interviews with survey
respondents. During the course of this project AoC London also consulted DIUS,
the Metropolitan Police, Government Office for London, Eversheds LLP and the
National Council of Faiths and Beliefs in Further Education.
6. The experiences of London colleges
Gang problems experienced by London colleges
Gang-related problems reported by London colleges include:
Serious incidents on college premises or in the wider community involving or affecting
college students. The following incidents were reported by colleges:
Murder and other acts of violence (murder was reported by 13% of survey
respondents, though not on college premises and not always gang-related);
Carrying and occasional use of weapons (reported by 58% of survey
respondents), including knives and improvised weapons such as clubs, bottles,
Harassment, bullying and threats;
Students bringing acquaintances from outside the college onto college premises
for protection or to threaten or attack other students;
People loitering outside college premises exhibiting threatening behaviour;
Mobile phone theft and other petty criminal activity.
“Background noise”. Colleges report that the vast majority of their students are not
directly involved with gangs but that many live in communities with gang problems,
and suffer from what one survey respondent called “background noise”. This includes
the following problems which were reported by colleges:
Students fearful of gangs in their home neighbourhoods and under pressure to
join gangs for protection or for a sense of security and belonging;
Students dropping out of college after seeing gang members in college;
Students choosing to travel long distances from home to attend colleges where
they can avoid local gangs and feel unconstrained by peer pressure;
Students fearful of run-ins with gang members during journeys to and from
college and may take long and circuitous routes to college to avoid certain
people or places - train stations, bus stops, buses and trains are seen as gang
hot spots. Travel problems affect attendance at college and participation in off-
site activities that require travel to alternative campuses, workplaces or other
facilities, and this has a detrimental effect on completion and success rates. A
related future challenge that colleges are already addressing is the increased
number of school pupils and college students taking 14-19 diplomas who need
to move between schools and colleges as part of their regular timetable.
Groups of students may dominate common areas and facilities, e.g. pool tables,
and create no-go areas for other students.
Reputational concerns. Gang crime is currently widely reported in national and local
media and a number of incidents involving (or falsely reported as involving) London
college students have received significant media coverage in the last year. At a local
level some colleges report that their communities will always assume that any young
people misbehaving in the area are college students. Colleges are understandably
concerned about the damage gang incidents may have on their reputation, particularly
in the localities from which they draw students.
Despite these concerns, colleges appear to be very successful at preventing gang
problems on their campuses. 75% of survey respondents and all interviewees said that
their colleges were considered to be places of safety with problems happening entirely
or mainly outside of college areas. Feedback from students suggests that attending
college is often the safest, least disrupted part of their daily lives.
7. 3 Rationalisation of current
research on guns, gangs and
The profile of gangs affecting London colleges
other weapons: Phase 1, p.6.
See references below for more The Hallsworth and Young definition (used by the Home Office and the Metropolitan
on definition of ‘gang’. Police) describes gangs as “[r]elatively durable, predominantly street based groups of
young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for
4 The Metropolitan Police whom crime and violence is integral to the group’s identity”3.
identify three all-female gangs,
see Metropolitan Police The following profile brings together the experiences reported by colleges:
Service Response to Guns,
Gangs and Knives in London.
Gang identity Often grouped along neighbourhood or territorial lines with postcodes
5Metropolitan Police Service often significant
Response to Guns, Gangs and Cultural, ethnic and religious groups also a strong focal point for gang
Knives in London. identity and the major factor in some areas
Widespread view among colleges that most students behave “tribally”,
associating mainly with others from the same neighbourhoods and
cultural groups, so gang groupings not unusual
Gender Predominantly male, though also a perception that there are a small
number of female gang members and female gangs4
Age Some colleges report mainly younger students involved
Gang culture Significant features that may help to identify gangs are: gang names,
gang colours (clothing worn to denote membership of and status
within a gang), grafitti tags (often incorporating the gang name, initials
or postcode), music and the use or dealing of drugs
Aspects of behaviour related to gang identity may vary and close work
with students and local police is helpful; “The different cultural make
up of gangs means that each one operates in a different manner,
consequently each gang needs a bespoke plan to facilitate proper
engagement” (Metropolitan Police)5
Annual cycle City and Islington College reported problems tend to escalate during
the first part of the college year and a south London sixth form college
reports that violence is most likely to occur during dark winter
8. Approaches to tackling and preventing
gang problems in London colleges
Although colleges are actively and successfully tackling gang problems many do not
have an explicit strategy targeted at addressing gangs. This is in large part because
gang issues cut across other areas targeted by colleges such as promoting respect
and student safety. These issues, rather than gangs per se, are seen as their
greatest concern so colleges’ anti-gang strategies may be implicit in other strategic
policies such as student charters and harassment and bullying policies. In some
cases colleges also want to avoid using the word ‘gang’ which some young people
would see as having a certain kudos. There may also be some reputational
concerns about openly adopting an explicit anti-gang strategy.
The rest of this section outlines what colleges are doing to tackle and prevent gang
problems. Colleges have different local situations to work within and different levels
of resources available but there is much that can be usefully shared.
London colleges’ main source of intelligence on gangs is their students, in particular
through contact with staff including personal tutors, lecturers, enrichment workers,
youth workers, counsellors, and security and facilities staff. Using learner voice
systems like student councils, focus groups and student surveys can also provide
useful information on students’ perceptions, particularly if the college actively seeks
the students’ views on gang problems or related areas such as safe travel to college
or bullying. The information that colleges have on gangs and gang-related problems
seems to be mainly qualitative and largely based on perceptions of staff and
students. The nature of gangs means that there are limits on what information
colleges can have access to; even those colleges with good monitoring systems in
place may sometimes be unaware that students are involved with gangs until an
Colleges also generally receive information through (mainly informal) information
sharing with external organisations, such as police Safer Neighbourhood Teams
(SNTs), Youth Offending Teams, the National Probation Service, drugs projects, local
authorities such as Children’s Services (Every Child Matters ) and Housing Services,
Connexions and schools.
Colleges recognise that some students manage to successfully lead a “dual life”,
negotiating their way around the fringes of gang activity outside college whilst
successfully completing their studies. One college suggested that research into how
these students succeed could help to provide guidance for others in this situation
and for college staff working with them.
Feedback from students suggests that they are motivated to stay out of trouble by
the prospect of getting qualifications and improving their chances of success in life.
A student on the offender learning programme at Lewisham College told a member
of staff that although he was in a gang, he would leave it and stop committing
crimes if he could successfully complete the programme and find a job. Creating
expectations of success and celebrating achievement is recommended by colleges
as a way to keep students away from gangs. The message of aspiration can be
reinforced with outside speakers. A good example of this is when Shaun Bailey,
Director of MyGeneration, a youth and family charity, spoke to students at a sixth
form college in west London about making responsible choices. West Thames
9. 6AoC London Key College gives positive encouragement to students with displays of students’ (academic
Facts 2008. and non-academic) successes and achievements as part of their “Proud of You”
campaign. A sixth form college in south London expressed their hope that in the long
run progression into employment or to university is the best way to help students to get
out of troubled local areas and make a new start.
Many colleges actively promote values and norms of appropriate, mutually respectful
behaviour. For example, “Peace Skills” are part of the compulsory Religious and Moral
Education programme at St Dominic’s Sixth Form College. Programmes such as this
also aim to promote and build a strong and open college community for students to
identify with, which addresses the need to belong that some young people satisfy
through gang membership.
Tolerance of cultural diversity
An important aspect of promoting respect is fostering tolerance and understanding in
diverse college communities. London is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the
world with 30% of the population from ethnic minorities; and colleges are even more
culturally diverse than the city as a whole with 44% of learners belonging to ethnic
minorities6. Harrow College reports that 80% of its full time students speak English
as an additional language. In some cases gangs can form out of cultural divisions and
lack of contact and understanding between groups, so addressing this can reduce
tensions. In some colleges chaplaincy staff liaise with local religious leaders to make
sure the college is actively involved with different sections of the community.
Case study: College of North East London’s
(CONEL) BRACE Project
Following a near fatal stabbing of a student CONEL became aware of a
serious deterioration in relations between Turkish/Kurdish and black students
which lay behind this violent incident. The college brought together 40 male
students from both ethnic groups to talk to each other in a series of
meetings which branched out into other activities such as trips to the
theatre together and joint cultural events. The BRACE project is considered
a great success as it has helped to calm a difficult situation without
intervention from the police and only required a small number of staff
members to run it. The project won the Haringey Neighbourhood Safety
Award in 2006/7 and has led to spin-off research by the Metropolitan Police
and the University of Central Lancashire.
Colleges recommend providing learners with many different opportunities to discuss
their concerns and make them known to college managers. College of North East
London, which was nominated for a CEL National Learner Voice Award, suggests it is
important to listen to students, take their feedback seriously and act upon it; in their
case this meant making changes to security arrangements following feedback through a
student survey. Student councils, focus groups, relevant questions in student surveys
and appointment of student governors have all been used successfully by colleges and
these enable students to take action for themselves and to help colleges to effectively
Some colleges offer mentoring services to students, often targeted at those deemed in
most need. This can be provided by staff, including security staff as is done in West
Thames College, and some colleges provide their staff with specialist mentoring
training. Mentoring is also provided by external organisations such as the From
Boyhood to Manhood Foundation who have been working with London colleges
including City of Westminster College.
10. Case study: Harrow College and Ethos Training 7 The Times Educational
Ethos Training supported a programme for selected groups of Afro- Supplement (Staff Short on
Caribbean young people at Harrow College who were failing to meet Legal Know How, 25 July
required attainment on their course. Two young Afro-Caribbean mentors 2008) highlighted a
widespread need for staff legal
from Ethos Training worked with them for between three and six sessions to training in schools, though it
help build their confidence and emphasise the degree of control they have noted that college staff seem
to make the choices that will direct their future lives. The result was to be better informed than
significantly improved retention of students and some improvement in those in schools about legal
attainment levels. Mentoring is now being implemented more widely in the issues affecting their work.
college with staff volunteers undergoing training to become qualified
mentors, and peer mentoring and study skills mentoring also being
Student gang awareness
Induction is a key time for colleges to raise awareness of potential gang and student
safety issues with students. Outside organisations (e.g. police, community and
voluntary sector organisations, reformed ex-criminals) are often invited to speak to new
students. Student handbooks, which often distributed at induction, are another way of
communicating with students, e.g. a further education (FE) college in west London
includes information on security in their handbook. Several colleges also run special
events throughout the year, often lasting for a week, to focus attention on particular
issues; these include events to address gang problems, e.g. Harrow College has held
awareness weeks on staying safe, anti-bullying, diversity and interfaith dialogue. One
sixth form college has used email to give students information about the possible
consequences of gang involvement.
Focus on the facts
Several colleges suggest it is most effective to focus these events and induction sessions
on raising awareness of the facts rather than “preaching” to students. City and Islington
College is introducing a case-study-based session at its induction to demonstrate that
the college code of conduct is always rigorously applied. Some other colleges would
like to use real life case studies and clear factual guides to the law and sentencing to
demonstrate the possible consequences of being involved with gangs. However, many
colleges reported difficulties in finding useful educational resources for this purpose.
The Metropolitan Police advise colleges looking for such materials to contact the Calling
the Shots campaign run by the From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation.
Some colleges integrate awareness of gang-related issues into the normal curriculum.
For example, film studies students at a sixth form college in west London have been
working on films exploring concerns about community gang problems. Curriculum
activities can also be linked up with larger projects and events as in the case of South
Thames College’s LifeWise project (see case study on p.11). Tutor periods as part of
the regular timetable also provide an opportunity in some colleges for group discussion
of gang-related issues, sometimes approached through discussion topics like equality
and diversity and bullying.
Using college staff
Colleges arrange specialist training for staff on gang-related topics, including knife
awareness, safe searching, conflict resolution and anger management. A number of
colleges thought that their staff might be unaware of legal issues that affect them when
dealing with gang problems7. Legal guidance on some issues on which London
colleges thought more advice is needed is included in appendix 1.
11. Case study: City of Westminster College and
Leap Confronting Conflict
Leap Confronting Conflict, a youth organisation with experience of working
with gangs in prisons, gave a three-day training course to 12 tutors in how
to teach conflict management skills to students. Leap Confronting Conflict’s
work is underpinned by the belief that processes of conflict resolution and
mediation should lie at the heart of all personal and social education
programmes for young people. The tutors are putting their training into
practice with groups in tutorial sessions and break times and will begin one-
to-one sessions shortly. The feedback from tutors has been very good and
the course is highly recommended by the college.
Student liaison staff
Most, if not all, colleges have staff devoted to liaising with and supporting students.
They can play a useful role in monitoring communal areas to watch out for dominant
groups taking ‘ownership’ of them. The College of North West London use members of
the local community who are well known and trusted by students in this role. It is also
suggested that college managers ensure that student support workers and youth
workers employed by the college understand that they should work in the interests of
Some colleges have chaplains for the major faiths. The National Council for Faiths and
Beliefs in Further Education who represent college chaplains, are keen to help deal with
gang problems in colleges and can offer relevant training to chaplains.
Case study: Croydon College’s Respect for All Manager
The Respect for All Manager plays a crucial coordination role in making the
college a safe, respectful, cohesive community in which to learn. This role
• Monitoring college procedures and developing Respect for All policies
• Representing the college on the Safer Neighbourhood Team panel and
other local inter-organisational groups.
• Ongoing liaison with the local Safer Neighbourhood Team and borough
gang unit adviser.
• Communicating intelligence about local gang activity from Police Safer
Neighbourhood Team and gang-unit officers to security staff and
Directors of Curriculum.
• Training staff.
• Working directly with students through student support services.
• Daily liason with security staff and coordinating and assisting day time
duty managers (senior staff with responsibility for dealing with incidents)
• Organising borough wide events, “Get Up Stand Up” and “Street Issues”,
about street crime, weapons and issues for young people involving
workshops for students and local school pupils
• Organising “Safer College Week” events twice a year
Bringing all these roles together under the responsibility of one person
provides coordination, leadership and a communication channel between all
parts of the college.
12. Disciplinary policy
Many colleges operate a “zero tolerance” disciplinary policy though there is some
variation in what this means in practice in terms of how wide ranging the policy is. The
essential element is setting clear limits on certain kinds of behaviour, particularly
violence, threats of violence and criminality, which are strictly and consistently enforced.
One South London FE college believes that its policy of zero tolerance on low level
bullying prevents more serious violence. Some zero tolerance policies extend to less
directly harmful elements of gang culture such as wearing baseball caps, hooded
sweatshirts and certain other kinds of clothing.
Case study: Newham Sixth Form College’s (NewVIc)
approach to conduct
NewVIc begins setting limits on acceptable behaviour at enrolment and
repeats the message to ensure it sticks in students’ minds. A copy of the
college’s code of conduct is attached to each enrolment desk and new
students are asked to read it all and sign to agree to abide by it. All new
students are also given their own copy of the code of conduct. As part of
the induction process the Assistant Principal meets small groups of students
(in allocated lunch break sessions over a period of a few weeks) to explain
the code of conduct. They aim to make students understand as clearly as
possible what the code means in practice and how it is applied, using
examples and case studies to illustrate points. They highlight important
principles of their code, particularly that it applies to all students equally with
no special exemptions (e.g. for cultural reasons), and that encouraging
others to participate in or be present at an incident that violates the code is
itself a disciplinary offence. All staff, from facilities to senior management
are able to report unacceptable behaviour and their visible presence around
college creates an environment where students’ behaviour is excellent.
Where disciplinary measures have to be taken they rigidly follow their
procedures and they involve parents even if student is old enough for this
not to be a statutory requirement.
Many colleges have recent experience of excluding students and they often feel this is a
necessary step to keep violent or disruptive individuals out of college or as a last resort
when other disciplinary measures have failed. Colleges feel that more clarity would be
helpful on what are reasonable grounds for exclusion, both to ensure consistent practice
and to pre-empt appeals. This issue is addressed in the supplementary legal guidance
in appendix 1.
Welfare of excluded students
Some colleges expressed concern that the students they exclude will not take up
education or training elsewhere, so exclusion may have a serious adverse effect on their
life prospects. This may make them reluctant to exclude students, including those
involved with gangs. One FE college tries to strike a balance between the interests of
violent or disruptive students and the rest of the college by offering distance learning
and banning them from college premises unless they are given express permission to
attend, escorted by security staff as a necessary part of their course. This has been
effective but more costly than standard provision and it does not promote inclusion of
the young people who might benefit most from the stable environment of a college.
The concern to keep students in education rather than excluding them may be
addressed in some cases by an arrangement between colleges to refer difficult students
to each other. “Managed Move” agreements of this sort currently exist for schools (with
some colleges receiving students from schools). Schools’ agreements also involve
sharing information on excluded pupils with their new school. Similar arrangements
could usefully be developed for colleges.
13. Youth Justice Board,
Groups, Gangs and Weapons
Gang awareness in schools
As gang membership is the result of a gradual process often beginning at an early age8,
gang prevention efforts may be effectively directed towards school-age children. College
of North East London has found that children and young people are more likely to listen
to people of a similar age, and college students with relevant experiences, mature
attitudes and aspirational outlooks are potentially an important positive influence on
school pupils. They explored setting up a scheme to pay college students to visit
schools and work with pupils but unfortunately were unable to secure funding for the
scheme. Some colleges involve local schools in their gang awareness events, for
example one college involved year 10 and 11 students from local schools in its London
Peace Week events.
Influencing the transition to college
Research suggests that transition phases are a time when young people are vulnerable
to becoming involved in gangs and criminal behaviour9, and therefore offer key
opportunities to affect behaviour. Anecdotal evidence from colleges corroborates this,
suggesting that for some young people, starting at college can lead to radical changes in
attitude. This is therefore a key time that colleges should focus on. An FE college in
west London suggests watching out for groups of people arriving en masse to enrol for
the same course. City and Islington College warns against asking new students to tell
the rest of the class which school they previously attended when introducing
themselves as this helps divide the class into neighbourhood groups right from the start.
City and Islington College also conducts one on one meetings with every new student
during induction, often discussing student safety and safe travel, which they believe can
help to identify problems early on.
Information sharing with schools
Information sharing between colleges and feeder schools can also help to identify and
prevent problems. This happens in some colleges on an informal and ad hoc basis but
not in all. Some colleges think closer links between colleges and their feeder schools
and better information sharing would be beneficial, others think that the number of
feeder schools from across London and beyond would make this impractical.
Case study: South Thames College’s LifeWise Project
South Thames College joined with six of its main feeder schools within the
Borough of Wandsworth for a large-scale, student-led project which used
the talents, skills and interests of young people from across the college to
highlight the problems of gun and knife crime. The project culminated in a
high-profile showcase event at City Hall with the Deputy Mayor, Ray Lewis.
Performing arts students produced live theatre in educational performances
on the effects of gun and knife crime in the community, music students
produced a CD with anti-violence lyrics, and media students produced
promotional videos. Art and design students gave the project its name -
LifeWise - and designed marketing materials, including a project logo and
business students were in charge of promotion, merchandising and
organisation of the event. Health and social care students presented case
studies and research on the issue with their action plan for tackling the
problem. The collaboration was facilitated by innovative use of technology to
communicate and share work which was supported by the Mobile Learning
Network (Molenet). Partner organisations and industry figures from across
music, media and social services were also involved but one of the most
interesting and successful features of this project is the level to which
students themselves were managing the whole project and were actively
engaged with it. Additionally, all project work contributed to student’s
14. Security and student safety
London colleges have invested heavily in security systems and developing security
procedures. CCTV, turnstiles and ID cards have become common and many colleges
have a strict requirement for everyone on site to wear ID badges at all times. This has
generally been successful in keeping out intruders. Technological solutions to security
problems are in use, particularly in the area of weapons detection. Metal detector
arches and wands and devices to select people at random for testing have been
purchased by some colleges. Other colleges have access to these devices through their
police Safer Neighbourhood Teams. Colleges report that these devices can be very
effective in reducing weapons carrying.
Limits to keeping potential weapons out of college
While technology can prevent knives and guns coming into colleges some colleges
point out that they can never be entirely free of potential weapons. They give examples
of assaults with belts, sticks and bottles being used as offensive weapons. It is also
important to recognise that some students (e.g. art, construction) may need to have
tools or equipment with blades or points which could be used as dangerous weapons.
Some colleges were unsure about the legal position around weapons and what
constitutes an offensive weapon. This question is addressed in the supplementary legal
guidance in appendix 1.
Colleges suggest that security staff can have an important relationship with students;
they can even be used as mentors as they are at West Thames College. One FE college
in south London suggests that being known personally to security guards takes away a
student’s feeling of anonymity so they act more responsibly. It is seen as imperative to
give security staff adequate training to cope with such a role and ensure they are aware
of and involved with disciplinary policy. It is also seen as important to make sure
students feel comfortable with them by seeking and taking seriously students’ feedback.
Safe travel to and from college is a major area of concern which colleges are addressing
in their awareness raising activities with students. Safety on public transport is also one
of the Mayor of London’s priorities. London colleges could benefit from working
together with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to ensure that
policy focus delivers safer travel for students. When colleges become aware of specific
threats to students on their travel to and from college they often take steps to keep the
student safe, though controlling what goes on outside of college premises can be
difficult. City and Islington College staff have escorted a student who was threatened by
a gang to a bus stop a few minutes walk away from college to avoid gang members.
Unfortunately, in this case the gang quickly learnt of this and started going to the bus
stop further away. When a student from a south London sixth form college was
threatened by a gang the college paid to send them home in a taxi for about a week
until the situation cooled off and this was successful.
Monitoring areas outside college
One sixth form college in south London monitors areas outside their premises at the end
of the day but due to concerns about staff safety liability only the Senior Management
Team take on this duty. Due to these concerns others do not send staff out of college
premises but rely on the police to provide a presence when required. An FE college in
west London uses its security staff to approach people loitering around college gates
and calls the police if appropriate. In some cases colleges report that unwelcome
people can be deterred from coming back if they are approached by college staff. A
sixth form college in south London takes the precaution of noting registration numbers
of all unknown vehicles outside college. Legal guidance on issues around monitoring
areas outside college is included in appendix 1.
Colleges in London generally have some form of positive relationship with the local
police, usually through the Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT). Some colleges also work
with special gang or gun crime units where such units are operating in their areas (E.g.
Croydon College and the Croydon Gang Unit and Safer Croydon Unit). The level of
engagement with the police differs between colleges with some in regular contact with
their SNTs and others seeing them only when they need to call them in. There are also
agreements, protocols and action plans in place or being developed between colleges
and police to deal with areas like information sharing (City and Islington College,
Croydon College and West Thames College - see below) and knife searches (Barking
Funding and hosting police
Some colleges have special arrangements for funding police officers or Police
Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to work in their local areas. There is no standard
model for college funding of police and a survey of AoC London members found three
colleges (out of 14 who responded) who fund police time, all in different ways. An FE
college in west London splits the cost of a PCSO roughly 50:50 with their local
authority. College of North West London provides subsidised office space and parking
for their SNT, though they cannot direct their activities. Havering College funds two
PCSOs (as part of a total college security strategy which includes many strands
including employing an outreach Youth Worker based in the community) and is able
direct their activity in partnership with the SNT Sergeant.
Policing in colleges
Colleges will generally call on the police when an incident needs to be controlled or
when a visible police presence is required to defuse tensions. There have, however,
been cases where officers have been unavailable due to resource constraints. Police
also assist many colleges by bringing in arches to search for weapons at college
entrances. Colleges who have done this say it is an effective deterrent but they are
concerned that the large and conspicuous police presence (15-20 uniformed officers
and vans with equipment) and possibility of weapons being found may have an
adverse impact on colleges’ reputations. Croydon College’s experience suggests that
colleges need to be prepared for the negative effect this kind of operation can have on a
college’s reputation and consider how to handle the PR if a weapon is found. If this
does happen control of the story can be lost as an arrest may lead to the story entering
the public domain. Croydon College has managed the message in this respect by
acknowledging that it is at the forefront of tackling controversial issues and that, at
times, this can lead to difficult situations having to be confronted. The risks involved,
particularly to reputation, should not be underestimated. Harrow College is planning to
link police visits with search arches to a broader awareness campaign involving local
schools so that no one institution is singled out. One college has asked the police to
minimise their visible presence outside the college when carrying out searches. Further
guidance on managing communications is found in appendix 2.
Information sharing with the police
Colleges and police share information, generally on an informal basis. This can benefit
both parties, with police able to provide local intelligence to help colleges identify local
gangs who may be present among their students, and colleges able to help police. City
and Islington College’s assistance to the police, including an undercover operation in
the college, helped to secure a conviction. Some colleges, including Croydon College
and an FE college in west London are working with the police to formalise
arrangements for information sharing. West Thames College is developing an
information sharing protocol with local Youth Offending Teams.
16. Case study: Croydon College - Metropolitan Police information
Croydon College is piloting an information sharing protocol with the
Metropolitan Police. This involves the college providing a list of students
currently enrolled to the Met for checking against its records, and sharing
information where an individual is mentioned in both lists. If successful the
scheme may be rolled out across London.
Police work with students
Police education officers are used to raise awareness of safety and crime issues often as
part of induction programmes, freshers’ fairs or awareness campaigns, e.g. police
officers ran a workshop on knowing your rights at College of North East London. Police
programmes like Operations Trident (targeting gun crime in the black community) and
Blunt 2 (targeting serious youth violence and knife crime) also have materials and
officers who can visit colleges and work with students. In some colleges the police
have ongoing interactions with students through various channels, such as regular
police surgeries at College of North East London and the attendance of a non-
enforcement police officer at student parliament meetings at Croydon College. There are
also examples of police officers working with students in less formal situations such as
the two officers who volunteer to lead a Princes Trust group at City of Westminster
Programmes in development
AoC London has met with senior officers from across the Metropolitan Police to discuss
college-police cooperation and the development of new police initiatives for colleges.
The Metropolitan Police are keen to engage with the London college sector, seeing it as
an important current priority and one which should be treated distinctly alongside their
strategies for schools and universities. Two major initiatives are currently being
• An award for student safety and community cohesion is being piloted in schools
to recognise those in which young people feel safe, keep out of trouble and
make a positive contribution. The award will require not only best practice
within the school but also good joint working with police, youth offending teams,
transport services and other agencies. A framework for assessment is being
developed to be integrated into the Ofsted inspection system. The Metropolitan
Police and other agencies working on this project are looking to adapt the award
framework to colleges with the input of AoC London and the London college
• The College Security Assessment Model was developed by the Metropolitan
Police as part of Operation Trident to reduce the incidence and fear of weapons
carrying in colleges. The model involves a full assessment of risks based on
college incident data, questioning of students about their experiences and
perceptions, and a physical assessment of premises. Specific security
recommendations and ongoing implementation support are then provided to the
college. The assessment is provided free of charge and, based on experience of
the School Security Assessment Model, the benefits extend beyond weapons
carrying to such areas as prevention of asset loss and trespass. The assessment
has been completed in one sixth form college and is about to be piloted in an FE
college and two other sixth form colleges.
17. A collaborative approach
Many colleges recognise the importance of using local multi-agency groups for
discussing ways of preventing and tackling gang problems. These groups may include
police, local authorities, Connexions and the community and voluntary sector.
Newham Sixth Form College - who are active in their local community groups - advise
that college representatives should approach these groups in the capacity of diplomats
for the college, being tactfully receptive but firm and prepared to defend the college’s
reputation and interests if necessary.
As noted throughout this report colleges see information sharing as an important tool in
preventing and tackling gang problems and they share information to a greater or lesser
extent with police, schools, Youth Offending Teams and other agencies and community
organisations. This tends to be informal and ad hoc involving a phone call between
two individuals who are in more or less regular contact. Some colleges would like to
develop protocols for information sharing and provide more opportunities for different
agencies to meet and share information and best practice. Some colleges are
concerned about the legality of sharing information with external organisations,
particularly where it involves information about individuals. This issue is addressed in
the legal guidance in appendix 1.
Ongoing college information sharing network
Several colleges thought it would be helpful to have an ongoing network for
communication and discussion between colleges to share best practice and information
around tackling gang problems. There were various suggestions about who should be
involved (both in terms of seniority and whether they should be specialised in security,
student support etc.) and the means of communication (a JISC email discussion group,
a website message board or physical meetings). A network could involve external
organisations as permanent members or as occasional contributors. The existing AoC
London networks for Finance Directors, College Information Systems Managers and
Marketing Managers may provide a model for such a group. These meet once a term
and also correspond more regularly by email. Meetings typically include open forum
sessions and briefings and proposals led by external speakers or members of the group.
They are coordinated by AoC London staff but are led by network chairs elected from
within the groups by the members
18. Summary of good practice
Good practice for colleges
Based on survey responses and interviews the following are recommended to colleges
as good practice that they could consider following in tackling gang problems:
• Information gathering. Use staff-student liaison at all levels and learner voice
systems (student councils, focus groups and student surveys) to gather
information and intelligence from students about the membership, profile and
activities of local gangs. Build and use relationships with external organisations
to gather information and intelligence. Take advantage of opportunities to
participate in and learn from research. Coordinate internal information sharing.
• Ethos. Encourage hopes and expectations of success and progression and
openly celebrate students’ successes. Promote respect and tolerance of diversity.
Seek and take seriously feedback and use learner voice initiatives to empower
students and gather information. Offer mentoring to those who need it using
professionals and/or trained college staff and student mentors.
• Student Gang Awareness. Communicate key messages about potential gang
and student safety issues at induction using speakers, freshers’ fairs and
handbooks. Continue to raise awareness about these issues through the year
with targeted campaigns and events and ongoing communications with
students. Focus on the facts about the consequences of gang crime rather than
“preaching” and use case-studies and concrete examples, such as materials
from Calling the Shots. Integrate information and discussion on gang issues into
the normal curriculum and into tutor periods.
• Using College Staff. Ensure staff are provided with adequate training in areas
like knife awareness, safe searching, conflict resolution and anger management.
Ensure staff are aware of any legal issues that may affect their work (legal
guidance on issues raised by colleges is included in appendix 1). Use student
liaison officers who demonstrate understanding and behaviours that engender
trust among students to monitor communal areas. Make clear to student
support workers employed by the college that they should work in the interests
of the college. Take advantage of training opportunities for chaplaincy staff
(where these are employed) to enable them to work with individuals and
religious communities on gang problems. Coordinate gang prevention activities
and communications across the college, under the control of a dedicated
• Disciplinary Policy. Set clear limits on behaviour by adopting a zero tolerance
disciplinary policy (perhaps extending to low level bullying and/or gang culture).
Actively inform students and staff of the code of conduct. When disciplinary
action is taken, rigidly follow transparent procedures and involve parents.
• Schools. Build links with feeder schools and use them as a source of
information to help identify and prevent problems. Invite local school pupils to
take part in college gang awareness events and use student ambassadors to
positively inform, support and influence potential future college students. Use
the key transition phase between school and college to identify emerging or
potential problems and intervene.
• Security and Student Safety. As appropriate to the local college situation, deter
intruders with turnstiles, ID cards and CCTV. Use metal detector arches and
wands and random testing selectors, which can be purchased or brought in by
the police. Train security staff to get to know all students (possibly as mentors)
and enforce the code of conduct. Consider helping students who are threatened
on public transport by finding alternative transport (e.g. escort to different bus
stops or pay for cab home) until the situation is resolved. Monitor areas outside
college, noting unknown vehicles and using security staff or police to approach
suspicious people loitering outside college.
19. • Police. Develop a close working relationship with local Police SNTs and other
police units where they operate in the college’s locality. Develop protocols with
police to regularise information sharing, weapons searches etc. Consider
funding or hosting police officers. Call the police to deal with incidents or to
provide a visible presence to defuse tense situations. Take advantage of police
weapons search equipment but be prepared for a conspicuous police presence.
Use police educational resources and officers to raise awareness of gang-related
safety and crime issues. Invite police officers to build relationships with students
by attending events, holding police surgeries, attending student parliament
meetings and leading enrichment activities.
• Collaborative Approach. Work with (or where necessary establish) local multi-
agency groups to build relationships and share information with other
organisations and community groups working locally on gang-related issues.
Approach meetings as a diplomat for the college. Develop information sharing
protocols with external organisations.
• Reputation Management. Prepare a PR and communications strategy to
maintain a good college reputation at a time of public concern about youth
crime. AoC guidance on good practice is included in appendix 2.
Possible joint actions
The following are recommended actions that could be undertaken by London colleges
acting together and facilitated by AoC London:
• Learning from successful students. Carry out or commission research into how
students successfully pursue studies while living in localities with gang
problems. Use findings from this to produce guidance for others in this situation
and for college staff working with them.
• Exclusions system. Establish managed move agreements to transfer excluded
students between colleges.
• Schools. Develop and explore opportunities and funding options for student
ambassadors to work with school pupils pre-entry to college and develop
information sharing protocols between colleges and feeder schools.
• Police. Establish a standard information sharing protocol between colleges and
police (based on models currently in development). Provide college input to help
the Metropolitan Police to adapt the school student safety and community
cohesion award to colleges. Provide college input to help the Metropolitan Police
develop and roll out more widely the College Security Assessment model.
• Inter collegiate information sharing. Agree an inter-collegiate information
sharing protocol on former (in particular, excluded) students. Establish an
ongoing college communication network on gang-related issues (taking existing
AoC London networks as a starting point).
20. Link to policymaking
The following are key opportunities for London colleges and AoC London to work with
partner organisations and contribute to discussions with them about their policies and
• Government strategy on tackling gangs. Work with central government, in
particular DIUS, to ensure that the government’s strategy effectively tackles gang,
gun and knife problems affecting colleges. DIUS’s thinking on gangs is
understood to be very much in line with the findings of this report, emphasising
six main strands: effective multi agency working, positive engagement strategies,
a relevant curriculum, the creation of a safe environment for all learners, values-
led leadership and a trained and confident workforce. DIUS would also like to
identify good practice used by colleges with expertise in this area and
disseminate this to other colleges; the good practice identified in this report may
provide a good starting point for DIUS.
• DIUS Community Cohesion. Work with DIUS to inform their community
cohesion policy to ensure gang problems are recognised and adequately
• Mayor of London and GLA. Work with and offer advice to the Mayor, London
Assembly and GLA to help them develop policy that addresses their priority
areas of youth crime, gun and knife crime which is effective and beneficial to
• GLA/Transport for London Safe London Transport. Work with and offer advice
to the GLA and Transport for London to help them deliver safer travel for
• Metropolitan Police. Work with the Metropolitan Police to help adapt existing
strategies for schools and universities to the college environment and develop
effective new strategies for supporting colleges.
Supplementary Legal Guidance for Colleges
The following guidance is provided by Eversheds LLP Colleges are advised to refer any
queries or further legal questions to Eversheds LLP or another recognised legal
When can college staff search students?
Members of college staff have in general no further powers to search people, or to
search premises outside the college, than any other ordinary person. Police officers
have the powers given to them by statute. Accordingly if staff consider it is necessary to
search a student they will either need the student’s agreement or to call the police so
that they can use their powers. It is possible for a college to include in its conditions of
enrolment and disciplinary regulations provision that college staff may search students
and college property which they may use such as lockers, for example if they suspect
them of carrying controlled drugs. In practice this may carry unacceptable risks and in
any event staff should have regard to “Drugs: Guidance for Further Education
Institutions” produced by the Drug & Alcohol Prevention Team.
Since May 2007 college staff have had the same powers as school staff to screen and
search students for weapons, and to confiscate them pending the arrival of the police.
[This is the result of section 46 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.]The Principal
will need to authorise suitable staff to undertake searches and to ensure that the
guidelines contained in the DfES Guidance on screening and searching of pupils for
weapons is followed. See www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=11454. In
some circumstances it will be prudent to wait until the police arrive before any search is
undertaken, in others a search may be essential to prevent a situation escalating. Some
trade unions have advised their members not to attempt to search students.
What is a weapon?
Possessing an offensive weapon in a public place without a reasonable excuse is a
criminal offence. An offensive weapon is defined as “an article made or adapted to
cause injury or carried with the intent to cause injury or carried with intent to cause
injury”. There are therefore three categories of “offensive weapon”:
1. Weapons which are offensive per se
2. Articles which are adapted to cause injury
3. Articles which are carried with the intention to cause injury
In addition, it is a criminal offence to have in a public place without a reasonable
excuse an article with a blade or a point. The exception to this definition is a folding
pocket knife with a blade measuring less than 3”. The exemption does not apply to
lock knives, which are unlawful. It is a defence to this offence if the knife is being
carried for work purposes or for religious reasons. This offence is the most commonly
prosecuted in relation to the carrying of knives.
It is an additional offence for a person to have an offensive weapon on primary or
secondary school premises (not college premises) and for a person under the age of 17
to have in their possession a crossbow which can carry a drawn weight of greater than
When can college staff eject students and others from college premises?
A student will have the right to be on college premises only on condition that they
comply with college regulations, including its disciplinary policy. Senior staff will
normally have authority delegated by the Principal to exclude a student from the
premises, but if this is more than a temporary measure designed to cool a heated
situation exclusion is likely to amount to suspension from studies, which is a decision
which must be taken by a the holder of a senior post as defined by the college’s
instrument and articles of government and as designated by the college governing body.
Many colleges will only have one or two senior post holders in addition to the Principal.
Where a student has been or threatens to be violent the question arises whether the
student can be lawfully ejected by force. Under the Further and Higher Education Act
22. 1992 [section 85A] it is a criminal offence for a person present without lawful authority
on college premises to cause or permit a nuisance or disturbance to the annoyance of
persons lawfully present. Once the person concerned has been properly told to leave
the premises and has refused to do so the Principal or a person authorised by them
may remove the person from the premises. No more force than is reasonably necessary
should be used.
What responsibilities does the college have to keep staff safe?
It is an offence contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for an
organisation to fail to ensure, so far as it is reasonably practicable, the health, safety
and welfare of its employees. This duty would include ensuring the safety of employees
being asked to monitor areas outside the college, if they are being asked to do so in
accordance with their employment duties. Simple safeguards should be put in place to
ensure staff are protected. These can include sending staff in pairs, ensuring all
members of staff have mobile phones when leaving the premises to conduct such
monitoring arrangements, ensuring staff are not sent out to monitor bus stops late at
night and giving instructions to staff that “problem” individuals should not be
confronted, but rather the police should be called to deal with the situation.
Can college staff share information on gang-related incidents?
The main people with which colleges may wish to share information in relation to
violence and threats of violence on college premises are:
1. the police and other relevant agencies eg the local authority (which may wish
to invoke child protection procedures or to consider an application for an
anti-social behaviour order);
2. schools and other local colleges which gang members may attend or try to
3. the parent(s) or guardians of the student(s) concerned.
Colleges should have a policy on use of personal data and confidentiality which is
compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998. Personal data and especially sensitive
personal data eg regarding criminal convictions should be transferred to others or
otherwise processed only with the consent of the data subject or if one of the other
grounds in Schedules 2 or 3 of the 1998 Act apply. Students attending college, even if
under 16 and attending part time while based at school, should normally be capable of
consenting to transfer of their data. It is advisable, especially in the case of students
aged under 18, to include in the college’s terms of enrolment a statement that the
college may inform a student’s parents or guardians of any serious issues concerning
college work or behaviour. Even where a student does not consent to transfer of data it
may well be possible to share information where one of the other statutory grounds
applies. The grounds include the prevention of crime. Only the data reasonably required
should be transferred, transfer of the data should be only to those persons who need to
have it for such purposes and the recipient must in turn hold it securely and for no
longer than reasonably necessary.
Should there be a right of appeal against exclusion from college? If so, who should
There should be a right of appeal against decisions to suspend or permanently exclude
a student. As the initial decision will normally have been taken by a senior post holder
the appeal should be considered by another senior post holder not previously involved
or by the Principal. The ultimate decision must lie with the Principal and not, for
example, the Corporation as the decision to exclude a student is not one which the
college’s instrument and articles will allow the Principal to delegate.
23. Can college staff use force to physically restrain students?
There is a power of arrest for persons other than police constables if a person is
engaged in committing an offence or has committed an offence which is indictable, this
means an offence which can be heard in both the Magistrates’ or the Crown Court.
This would include offences of possessing an offensive weapon or a pointed or bladed
article, drugs offences or serious public order offences such as affray. It must be
reasonably necessary for a person to arrest the individual e.g. if the person is going to
escape. It must also not be reasonable to wait for the attendance of a police constable.
There is also a common law power to arrest a person for a reasonably anticipated or
actual breach of the peace such as causing a disturbance in a public place, or harm to
persons or property. In all cases the action taken to arrest and detain the person must
be reasonable and proportionate. It would therefore be advisable to use only the
minimum about of force required to detain an individual and the police should be called
as a matter of urgency, so that they can take control of the situation.
College staff have recently been given by the Education and Inspections Act 2006
[section 165] the same power as school staff to use reasonable force to restrain pupils
for the purposes of defending themselves or others. It is questionable how much more
protection this gives college staff than they would have had anyway under the common
law defence of self-defence. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 will, when
in force, seek to clarify the meaning of “reasonable force” for the purposes of the
common law defence by providing that “reasonableness” should be decided on the
basis of the circumstances as the defendant believed them to be, even if the belief was
mistaken and even if the mistake was unreasonable [section 76]. However, the amount
of force used must still not have been disproportionate in the circumstances. Therefore
college staff should avoid if at all possible trying to resolve situations themselves where
substantial force may be needed, they should instead wait for the police to attend if at
Eversheds LLP July 2008
24. Appendix 2:
Guidance for Colleges
Student Safety – Crisis Communications Guidelines
• Are intended to assist UK college communications practitioners in dealing with
(often very difficult) incidents associated with student safety. These may well
include violent incidents involving students as victims (and sometimes as
• Are a distillation of advice and guidance offered by college communications
professionals at a student safety seminar run by AoC London in March 2008.
The seminar was organised in response to a rising number of local and national
media articles describing incidents where college students were victims or
instigators of armed assaults (both on and off campus).
• Have been developed as a crisis management planning tool only – they are not
intended as a substitute for issues management strategies and are just one of
many tactics available for effective longer-term reputation building and
Very many thanks to the communications professionals who assisted in their
AoC Media and Public Relations Manager
When an assault on a college student takes place (on or off campus) communications
professionals are often required to act – handling multiple media enquiries,
communicating with distressed students and staff or contacting anxious parents. In
many cases you will be a key point of contact - ensuring that concerns are addressed
with clear and concise communications and managing the reputation of the college, its
students and staff (and sometimes the wider community) in the face of disturbing
events and a (sometimes hostile) media glare. It is a difficult job.
The information below is not meant to be exhaustive. Each incident will differ and the
issues arising (and communications channels, action points and key messages
available) will vary correspondingly.
Issues to Consider – A Quick Checklist
• Do you have a general crisis communications plan? Have you practised crisis
exercises with Senior Management Team?
• Can you organise a media statement in time to meet new media deadlines?
• Does your planning take into account all relevant internal and external publics –
including students, staff, parents, the police, your local MP etc?
• What internal media communications channels are available to you? Do you
have the communications channels in place to give staff messages in the event
of a serious crime on the premises and instructions on how and why media
enquiries should go through the PR/marketing office?
• Is your key contacts list up to date – for instance, do you have the police press
office number to hand?
• How would you deal with media misrepresentation of an incident, including
newspaper message boards?
• Do all of your reception staff know how to channel media enquiries? Are they
aware that some media may pose as staff and/or students?
• What student and staff safety measures and protocols are in place in your
• Do you have the contact details of relevant security and estates staff?
• Have you holding/key facts information available for media communications?
• How do you respond to enquiries about former students in the light of Data
Protection Act rules and media deadlines? (National media will often take a
guess at whether an individual studied at your college if you cannot supply them
with accurate information).
• How would you deal with an incident that forced a closure of the college?
• Do you know where broadcast media might park broadcast trucks?
• Can your college deal with out of hours media enquiries?
26. Some Communication Channels to Consider
• Always prepare a statement as soon as you are made aware of the issue – the
story may not reach the media but such a statement will ensure you are properly
prepared if enquiries are made.
• ‘No comment’ is never an option – a pre-prepared statement including as much
information as you are able to accurately and truthfully supply is a must in order
to effectively manage the reputation of your college and its staff and students
• You can use this statement as a template for subsequent internal and external
• Key facts on your college should be included as standard – media will want as
much information as possible
Face to face meetings with students/staff
• Students and staff will understandably be concerned and anxious (not least
about their own personal safety) following an incident involving assault –
effective communications should seek to address these concerns
• Face to face communication continues to be the most effective channel available
• Can you use existing staff meetings and student registration activities to cascade
Letter to students/parents/residents
• Strong, personal messages addressed to individuals from the Principal or other
senior manager will help reassure
Online communications – college website, intranet, staff, student or parent group
message boards etc.
• Very effective for quick communication of short, simple messages but receipt
difficult to monitor
Individual calls to other key publics
• Do you have a list of key publics to contact in the case of crisis – individuals or
groups who should be briefed (including those who may well be asked by the
media for third-party comment on an incident)?
For follow-up communications…
• Staff newsletters • Notice boards
• Consultation events • Registration notes
• Residents meetings • Safety Week events
Short Term Actions to Consider – A Quick Checklist
• Collect information and brief/advise SMT
• Arrange briefings for staff and students (face to face meetings where possible)
• Dispatch media statement
• Set up media room
• Brief key publics
• Extend/introduce counselling service
• Set up dedicated telephone/email service for concerned staff, students or parents
• Monitor media coverage
• Create FAQ for future events
• Follow-up media calls
27. Messages Available
As Regester Larkin’s Eddie Bensilum states: all crisis communications messages should
centre on the principles of:
• Care and Concern
In the light of these principles, messages to consider in the event of an assault include:
• Statement of reassurance and concern. In the event of serious incidents the
Principal will often be the key spokesperson: a comment from the college leader
lends gravity and weight to the statement. Expressions of personal concern and
reassurance do not equal admissions of liability – instead they lend humanity
and common points of reference to statements. Teachers are more trusted than
managers by the general public – this may influence how you present your
• Incident details. Media are, in principle, restricted to what they can publish in
certain circumstances (when an arrest has been made, for instance). However
these restrictions are often overlooked and colleges will be pressed to provide
available details in most circumstances. Wherever possible liaise with the police
press office to check what can be released.
• Time of statement and key contact details.
• Stress college co-operation with the police.
• Information on additional current activity in dealing with incident (i.e.
counselling services, communications activities etc).
• Information on college safety procedures and protocols.
• Key facts/notes section
Student or staff fatalities off premises
Journalists often contact schools and colleges for tributary comments when writing
about deceased staff or students. In most cases it is entirely appropriate for a college
Principal or other staff member to comment but we would recommend that, out of
courtesy, the college checks with the deceased’s family beforehand. In some cases,
particularly those where a sudden death may not have been handled with due
sensitivity by the media, the family may wish to refrain from providing a eulogy and will
wish the college to follow suit.
Introduction of Scanners/New security equipment in college
This is a difficult issue for colleges to communicate. On the one hand they may wish to
reassure students that they take their safety seriously, on the other they may be worried
about the messages that enhanced security measures send out to prospective students
and their parents.
Issues to consider:
• The introduction of new, visible, security measures – in particular metal
detectors – is likely to attract media attention. Expect enquiries.
• Some colleges successfully position the issue within a wider context of ‘student
safety week’ or a respect agenda.
• For some students the college is a recognised place of safety within a community
in which they may (generally) feel unsafe. Some colleges have signalled the
introduction metal detectors in these terms.
28. Appendix 3:
Key Contacts – Colleges’ Partner Organisations
Calling the Shots: www.callingtheshots.org.uk/, 07980 447 612
Department for Children, Families and Schools: www.dcsf.gov.uk
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills: www.dius.gov.uk
Ethos Consultancy (UK) Ltd: firstname.lastname@example.org, 01992 701102, 07960
From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation: www.usatfbmf.com/, 0207 703 6415,
GLA - London Against Gun and Knife Crime: www.london.gov.uk/gangs/
Home Office: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/
Leap Confronting Conflict: www.leaplinx.com/, 020 7561 3700,
Mayor of London, the London Assembly and the Greater London Authority:
Metropolitan Police Service: www.met.police.uk/
MyGeneration: www.mygeneration.org.uk/, 020 8968 4499,
National Council for Faiths and Beliefs in Further Education: www.fbfe.org.uk/
Operation Blunt Two: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/news/operation-blunt
Operation Trident: www.stoptheguns.org/
Transport for London: www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/default.aspx
Summary of gang research survey responses
Total responses received: 23
Total colleges responded: 22
Type of college
General Further Education College: 14
Sixth Form College: 8
Special Designated Institution: 0
Land-Based College: 0
Central (main campus within London Underground zone 1): 4
Outer (main campus outside London Underground zone 1): 18
29. Appendix 5:
Key Policy Documents
Mayor of London’s priorities (gun and knife crime):
Mayor of London’s priorities (policing on public transport):
Mayor of London’s budget priorities (youth crime, quality of life and value for
Home Office, Tackling Gangs: A Practical Guide for Local Authorities, CDRPs and
Other Local Partners:
Home Office, Youth Crime Action Plan 2008:
Home Office, Crime in England and Wales 2007/08:
Findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime:
Home Office, Gangs: You and Your Child. Advice to parents on gangs.
Helping your child make the right choice:
Youth Justice Board, Groups, Gangs and Weapons (summary):
DIUS, The Role of Further Education Providers in Promoting Community Cohesion,
Fostering Shared Values and Preventing Violent Extremism:
Metropolitan Police London Crime Mapping: www.maps.met.police.uk/
Metropolitan Police Service Response to Guns, Gangs and Knives in London:
Gangs in London website. Useful information source www.piczo.com/gangsinlondon
List of London gangs: gangsinlondon.piczo.com/listofgangs?cr=2&linkvar=000044
London Gang graffiti:
Definition of ‘gang’: gangsinlondon.piczo.com/whataregangs?cr=2&linkvar=000044
Hallsworth and Young typology of groups - Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science,
University College London , Rationalisation of current research on guns, gangs and
other weapons: Phase 1,
Home Office three tier gang classification based on Hallsworth and Young typology
in BBC news, 24 August 2007, Q and A: Gangs in the UK:
30. Vernon Coaker confirming Hallsworth and Young definition used by
Home Office, Q605:
Pitts, John; Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest:
Association of Colleges London Region, London Further Education Colleges Key
BBC news, 15 December 2008, Mapping UK’s teen murder toll:
Times Educational Supplement, 25 July 2008, Staff Short on Legal Know How
The Guardian, 11 December 2007, One last chance: A ‘managed move’ offers
children who face exclusion a fresh start without the trauma of rejection:
Abdelnoor, Adam, Managed Moves: A complete guide to managed moves as an
alternative to permanent exclusion, free download from:
31. Appendix 6:
AoC London would like to thank all the colleges who made this research possible by
sharing their experiences and good practice. These include Barking College, Christ the
King Sixth Form College, City & Islington College, City of Westminster College, College of
North East London, College of North West London, Croydon College, Harrow College,
Havering Sixth Form College, John Ruskin College, Kensington & Chelsea College,
Leyton Sixth Form College, Merton College, Sir George Monoux College, South Thames
College, St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College, St Dominic’s Sixth Form College,
Stanmore College, Uxbridge College, West Thames College, Westminster Kingsway
College and Woodhouse College. Special thanks are owed to the following who took
part in interviews on behalf of their colleges: John Eyles (City and Islington College),
Sue Porter (City of Westminster College), Howard Jeffrey (College of North East
London), David Howe (Croydon College), Susan Harrison (Harrow College), Lubna
Kazmi (NewVIc -Newham Sixth Form College), Moray Bayliss (Sir George Monoux
College), Keith Garside (South Thames College) and Mike McDonagh (Uxbridge
Special thanks go to Catherine Wilson-Paul and her colleagues at Eversheds LLP for
providing legal guidance and to Ben Verinder of AoC and the contributors to the AoC
London seminar on Crisis Communications for their guidance on communications.
Many thanks also to the Metropolitan Police for their wholehearted cooperation and in
particular to Mike Taylor, Superintendent Nick Jupp, Superintendent Adrian Rabot,
Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Lundrigen, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew
Coles, Detective Inspector Paul Anstee, Detective Constable Jo Poole and Police
Constable Ruari Robertson and also to Richard Jolly of Government Office for London
for their contributions to a meeting with AoC London. Thanks also go to Korin Wilshaw,
Deborah Persaud and Richard Ward of the Department for Innovation, Universities and
Skills; and Harjinder Singh of the National Council of Faiths and Beliefs in Further
Education for their input.
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