HUNDREDS of staff are being issued personal alarms to keep them safe as a college increases its levels of security.
The move is the latest in a series of measures taken at Darlington College and comes in the wake of the death of Sarah Everard who went missing as she walked home in London.
It also cements the college’s reputation for being safety conscious since the murder in 2009 of student Ashleigh Hall, who was groomed and killed by a sexual predator. Even today students are issued with a card featuring crucial safety advice.
Male and female staff at Darlington College have now been issued with 500 personal safety devices which issue a piercing alarm when activated.
The move follows substantial investment in campus safety including improved lighting, particularly around the concourse and car parks, and the installation of high quality digital CCTV which is connected to a central control room.
Deputy principal Carole Todd (pictured), leads a 15-strong team which looks after the wellbeing of staff and students at the college.
She said: “We have been conscious of safety right across the college community since Ashleigh’s tragic death and when Sarah Everard was killed this really did resonate.
“The intimidation and harassment of men and women is nothing new and many people have suffered over the years.
“We have tried to create a culture here where people can speak up if they have concerns and we have heard back from many who felt uncomfortable leaving the college in the dark. So we have improved on-site security and the personal alarms are the next logical step. They are a very effective deterrent to would-be attackers and also attract a lot of attention when activated.”
She said the college was backing a Government initiative to collect evidence of incidents of violence against people in order to improve the situation in the future.
“We are encouraging our staff to talk to young people about the issue and by doing so we are raising awareness that threats and violence are unacceptable in modern society,” she said.
“We are also teaching everyone the international sign for help for anyone who finds themselves in trouble.
“With the increase in on-line learning our staff can find themselves looking through a digital window into people’s home lives, some of whom might be experiencing domestic violence. It is a key strategic objective of this college to keep the issue of security open so everyone can feel safe.”