A new initiative has been launched to help UK universities be more prepared for action by animal rights activists. The Research Defence Society (RDS), a body funded by researchers, universities, and medical charities, said this week that it has appointed a senior project manager to take charge of coordinating how universities deal with extremist activity.

The job will be to work closely with vice chancellors and scientists to prevent the criminal activities of extremists and protect staff against attacks. The new post, which has the backing of UK Science Minister David Sainsbury, will take effect by the end of August.

The move is being made because of concerns that universities are simply reacting to animal rights groups through crisis management, rather than preparing themselves more thoroughly in advance, RDS Director Simon Festing told The Scientist.

Festing said the RDS would be more proactive, touring universities that have animal research...

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