Student bags searched as Bod tightens security

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Security has been tightened
across the University following the attacks by animal rights extremists over
the summer. Visitors to the Radcliffe Camera
(Rad Cam) now have to have their bags checked by members of the security staff
on their way into the library as well as on their way out. The new measure was
introduced last week. A sign near the entrance of the Rad Cam reads, “Bags will
be searched upon entry and exit of the library.”A University spokesperson said, “It
[bag checking] is part of ongoing reviews of security across the University.The University carries out
regular reviews in light of latest advice from the University Martial and the
Police. Security has always been important but it is particularly so right now
in view of the increased threat from animal rights extremism.”The spokesperson emphasised that “The
University of Oxford takes security of its staff and students as well as its
premises seriously.” The Rad Cam fulfils its architect James Gibbs’ intention,
namely that it be “a publick [sic] building seen by all sorts of people who
come to Oxford
from all parts of the world.” The building has become a readily recognisable
symbol of Oxford
both nationally and internationally.One internet site, ukattraction.com,
uses the word “iconic” to describe the Rad Cam. A member of staff from the
Radcliffe Science Library, which is the University’s main science reference
library said, “We’ve only just been informed about the new security measures introduced
at the Rad Cam. I suspect they’re very concerned about security because the Rad
Cam is such a symbol of Oxford
and so would probably be a prime target for animal rights extremists.” The person added, “We [the
Radcliffe Science Library] and other libraries across the University will
probably follow Rad Cam’s lead and look at measures to improve security.”Arielle Goodley, a student,
commented, “I think checking bags at the entrance of Rad Cam is a good idea. It
only takes about two seconds and it makes things safer.” Another student disagreed. “It’s
all a bit of a hassle. I’m a smoker and every time I need a fag I need to go
outside then come back in, so I’ll have to get my bag checked several times on
each visit. It gets annoying after a while.” A spokesperson from the Ashmolean Museum, another part of the University
that is also a major tourist attraction, said, “We do take security seriously
especially given increased threat from animal rights extremists and terrorist
attacks. “We do not currently check bags
and I see no prospect of doing so for every visitor on their way in. We didn’t
do that even in the days of the IRA. We’ll of course constantly keep an eye on
the matter, but we have no plans at the moment of introducing bag-checking.” A spokesperson from the Thames
Valley Police said, “We’d support any organization who wishes to increase their
security for whatever purpose – whether it is in response to increased threat
of terrorist attacks or animal rights extremism. It’s always a good thing to be
more vigilant, more alert and to take security issues more seriously.“We’d back any measures that
would increase the safety of students, members of staff and the public in
general and prevent disruptions and tragedies from happening.”ARCHIVE: 2nd week MT 2005

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