Campus Security under fire for homophobic conduct, FOI reveals

Embattled security firm SNP is embroiled in more controversy

Content warning: Homophobia and Heterosexism

Honi Soit has obtained documents under Freedom of Information legislation which indicate Campus Security received a complaint alleging homophobic treatment late last year, but failed to investigate it.

The complainant sent a message to the University of Sydney Facebook page alleging that Campus Security confronted two men in the accessible cubicle of one of campus’ bathrooms, and addressed them by saying “you’re going to be charged faggots.”

“The behaviour of the security guards was aggressive, homophobic and a poor reflection of Sydney University,” read the complaint.

Honi has also seen emails between senior Campus Security personnel. In one email chain, Security Risk Coordinator Duane Ledford suggested that campus security should temporarily cease surveillance of the bathrooms until the complaint was resolved.

This suggestion was swiftly dismissed by the Head of Campus Security Simon Hardman.

“Effectively, you’ve created a ‘no go’ zone for security guards and that’s not on.”

“We must provide security patrols to all areas of campus – including [the relevant] toilets; particularly so when there’s a 24/7 student hub upstairs.”

“Of course, we can’t have the patrol officers behaving in the manner that is alleged, however, we should always interrupt public sex acts – no exception,” said Hardman.

An official University spokesperson told Honi that Campus Security personnel do not receive specific training on interrupting sexual activity in public places, including public toilets. 

However, “Sexual acts which occur in a public place could constitute a breach of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW)” and personnel are trained in responding to breaches of law.

No campus security personnel were disciplined as a result of the allegations. 

The complaint “is now very difficult to resolve, due to subsequent internal staff changes and our transition to a new security service provider,” the spokesperson said.

Hardman, a former NSW Police commander, became Head of Campus Security and Emergency Management in 2017 after he was discharged from the force. 

“Normal recruitment processes were followed,” according to the spokesperson.

As Newtown Police Superintendent, Hardman had a close relationship with University management. Back in 2013, then Campus Security Manager Morgan Andrews wrote to Hardman, adding “Let me know when you want a milkshake.”

Honi previously reported that Hardman was involved in collaboration with University management against student strikes.

Hardman also faced allegations of homophobia after he said four homosexual officers had “an anecdotal reputation for loose morals and reckless behaviour,” according to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald in May. 

Hardman subjected the officers to drug testing and an internal investigation which made no findings of drug use or other misconduct. 

The officers have since sued the NSW Government, alleging discrimination, maladministration and misuse of public funds.

At the time of the complaint, campus security services were contracted to the embattled Sydney Night Patrol and Inquiry (SNP) which is currently under investigation by the NSW anti-corruption watchdog for allegedly falsifying more than $120,000 in fake timesheets. The investigation is ongoing. 

Although Wilson Security had a brief stint providing campus security at the time of the complaint, Honi understands it was not involved. 

Since the complaint, the University has replaced SNP with Australian Concert and Entertainment Security (ACES) in a contract worth $19 million and expected to last until 2022.  

We do not tolerate harassment or intimidation and any official complaint of improper action by staff would be investigated by the University and dealt with appropriately,” the spokesperson said.

Hardman did not provide comment when requested by Honi.

All the documents provided in response to the Government Information (Public Access) application are available below.

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