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Durham’s South College Bar becomes first university venue to receive National Policing Safety Award


Durham University’s South College Bar has demonstrated its 5-star commitment to student safety, becoming the first university venue in the country to receive a National Policing Award for Safety.


South College was founded in 2020, offering students a vibrant, varied and enriching collegiate experience, with a range of modern facilities including the café-bar ‘The Nest’, which achieved the award after successfully taking part in a pioneering, police-led initiative to improve the safety and security of its premises for the benefit of staff, customers, and local communities.


Available as an online self-assessment, Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI) brings together, for the first time, all the information that licensed premises need to comply with the requirements of local police and council licensing teams, achieve a star-rating and have the opportunity to apply for Licensing SAVI accreditation and an award.

Located in the university’s Pitcairn Building, The Nest serves hot food and drinks and is used as a hub for students wishing to study, work on group projects and socialise. In the evenings, the bar serves soft drinks and alcoholic beverages and is host to a number of social events including student performances, televised sports and dances. The space can also be opened to increase capacity, allowing for larger-scale events.


Durham University’s Philip Smith, Food and Beverage Services Head at South College, said: “Providing a safe space for our students to socialise and build a community is one of the main aims of our café-bar, so by applying for the Licensing SAVI accreditation we hope this shows our commitment to this and further enhances the confidence of our students. We are delighted to have achieved a 5* rating. The process was very easy to complete, and the resources provided are very helpful to aid in ongoing staff training and for visible displays in the venue.”


Mark Morgan, Business Manager, Licensing SAVI, congratulated the venue on their achievement: “We are delighted that South College Bar has been awarded our 5* rating, and in doing so, becomes the first university venue in the country to be accredited with this police-approved award for their safety, security & vulnerability.


“I hope students and staff visiting do so in the knowledge of the efforts Phil and the team have taken to enhance their safety, by achieving our highest rating and building upon the already excellent facility. We congratulate them on their achievement.”


Joy Allen, Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham, said: “I am delighted to see Durham University’s South College leading the way, achieving this prestigious award for their 5-star commitment to student and venue safety. I now hope that other colleges and local bars in the city follow suit to help me, as the Police and Crime Commissioner, make Durham safer, stronger and more resilient to crime and disorder.”


Licensing SAVI was developed at the request of the Home Office by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), which works alongside the Police Service to deter and reduce crime. As well as provide safer and more secure venues for managers, staff, customers, and local communities, it also seeks to reduce demand on Police Forces, NHS Ambulance Services and Accident & Emergency Departments.


A YouGov survey of 5,050 adults aged 18-45 in England and Wales commissioned by Police CPI in 2021 found that 79% of adults agreed with the statement that ‘recent publicity around the safety of women and girls has made it more important for licensed premises to improve their safety procedures’.


The research also found that support for improved safety in venues is greatest among women – with 83% of women wanting improved safety in nightclubs compared to 75% of men; and 81% of women wanting safer bars and pubs compared to 70% of men.


Licensing SAVI covers critical issues like responsible drinking, drugs misuse, violent behaviour and safeguarding vulnerable customers through to preventing opportunist theft and improving physical security, such as lighting and CCTV.


Most measures included in Licensing SAVI can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost.


The first police award of its kind, Licensing SAVI aims to support the licensing trade and is backed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Project Servator, a police-led vigilance scheme to deter terrorist attacks at crowded-places.

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