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Concerning the Role of Public and Private Police Forces Versus Safety Services on Canadian University and College Campuses

CAUT Policy Statement

CAUT seeks to protect the rights of academic staff associations and their members in their relations with their own institutions and with private and public organizations with which they come in contact in carrying out their responsibilities.

Activities of policing agencies and security services on post-secondary institution campuses can threaten academic freedom. Experience shows that such activities can interfere with the rights of individual members of the academic staff and students and can undermine institutions’ obligation to foster freedom of thought, expression and intellectual inquiry without restriction.

Policy Statement

1.1. Campus Safety Services

A post-secondary institution should establish a campus safety service, staffed by institution employees, rather than relying on private security services or public police services. Private policing agencies or security services should be given no status on campus. The costs of such services should be borne by the institution itself and not by individual members or groups.

The post-secondary institution should establish a permanent committee, with representation drawn from all campus constituencies, including academic staff associations to develop policies on the role of public police and campus safety services, and to monitor the implementation of these policies. Policies must ensure that principles of equity, academic freedom, and freedom of expression remain paramount. The Committee should meet at regular intervals and provide reports assessing safety and security to the entire community.

The primary responsibilities of a campus safety service is to protect the lives and well-being of individuals on campus, to protect their property and the institution’s property, to deliver programs that prevent or reduce risks to individuals or property on campus. Because members of marginalized groups may be more likely to experience violence and discrimination, it is important that safety programs explicitly address discrimination, racism, hate crimes, equity and inclusivity.

In order to carry out the responsibilities described above; it is important that the safety service staff complement be adequate to carry out its assigned services.

Members of a campus safety service should have the education, background, and training that will permit them to carry out properly the duties assigned to them. Inclusivity and anti-discrimination training should be provided to all members of the campus safety service. It is important to ensure that the safety service is itself diverse to reflect the diversity of the community that it serves.

The actions of a campus safety service must be respectful of academic freedom and equity, and not constrain freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and job action.

The relationships among the post-secondary institution, its campus safety service, and public police agencies should be clearly established, particularly respecting:

a)    on-campus events for which members of public police agencies provide policing services,
b)    the coordination of campus safety service and public police agency roles for on-campus offences, and
c)    emergencies.

Campus safety should provide immediate descriptions to the community of incidents that threaten the safety or security of community members.

A campus safety service should be responsible to a senior member of the administration.

Safety and security policies and programs must be transparent. A campus safety service should report regularly to the security or safety committee and to the governing academic body of the post-secondary institution and give incident statistics. Campus safety services should provide immediate descriptions to the community of incidents, or reported incidents, that threaten the safety or security of community members.

The post-secondary institution should establish a process for adjudicating complaints respecting the conduct of members of its campus safety service.

Policies should be established for a campus safety service, at the appropriate levels of university or college governance, respecting the following matters:

a)    use of force;
b)    procedures and facilities for the reporting of offences or other emergencies;
c)    responses to the reported offences or emergencies;
d)    the security of campus facilities, including residences;
e)    the promotion of prompt reporting of offences;
f)     the establishment of linkages between the campus safety service and other campus resources and services (for instance, counselling and student services, emergency response teams, foot patrols, parking services);
g)    the provision of information to the campus community respecting threats to individuals or property;
h)   the provision of educational programs to the campus community (for instance, concerning sexual offence prevention, the reporting of sexual violence, personal safety, and the protection of property);
i)     the collection and reporting of campus incident statistics;
j)     privacy and access to academic staff association offices.

1.2. Public Police and Security Agencies

Where a campus safety service operates, public police and security agencies should restrict their activities on post-secondary institution campuses to investigating specific alleged violations of the law

Such investigations or other activities should be drawn at the outset to the attention of the senior member of the post-secondary institution’s administration having responsibility in this area of policy and practice.

Public police and security agencies should not place or use informers on post-secondary institution campuses and should refrain from recruiting members of the academic staff and students as undercover agents or informers.

Academic staff may be approached by agencies for information about colleagues or students in the course of pre-employment, security clearance inquiries, or other purposes. Academic staff should seek advice from their association on their rights in the event that they are approached for information.  

Academic staff members or students who are the subjects of pre-employment inquiries and related security clearances should be told by the agency conducting the inquiry of the inquiry and, subsequently, of the results of the investigation, unless such disclosure is prohibited by law.

Information related to activities of academic staff members should only be released in response to court orders, subpoenas or warrants when all legal avenues to prevent release are exhausted

Approved by CAUT Council, September 1987;
Revision approved by CAUT Council, September 1988;
Revision Approved by CAUT Council, February 1989;
Revision approved by CAUT Council, April 2006;
Revision approved by the CAUT Council, November 2016;
Editorial revisions approved by the CAUT Executive Committee, February 2022.