Security sector highlights from 2019 & challenges for 2020
David Ward, CEO of Ward Security, reviews his highlights for the security sector in 2019 and identifies key challenges going forward in 2020.
A case study in security collaboration
Collaboration was an important theme for security in 2019. I have always maintained that sharing intelligence is good practice and that working together, very often with our competitors, makes for a better, more resilient secure environment for all. With that in mind, the creation of the City Security Council is a perfect example of collaboration working in practice. We have successfully galvanised support from our industry peers and, with the backing of the City of London Police Commissioner, launched the council in June.
The CSC, as it’s now commonly referred to, is a collaborative council open to all security businesses that operate in the City of London to join. Its main purpose is to standardise effective and efficient responses from security companies when operating in times of emergency. This approach was devised by senior members of the industry who met over a period of twelve months to discuss ideas and agree what is essentially a code of good practice. In February 2020, the CSC will hold its first multi-agency exercise, involving the CPNI and emergency services and its members. It is a wholly collaborative council and one I believe will make a huge tangible difference to how we respond to incidents in the City, and everyone involved in the set-up should be commended for their efforts. If you have a security business in the City and are interested in joining, see citysecuritycouncil.co.uk for details.
Learning from major incidents
While collaboration has been a key theme, so too has been learning. The security sector has invested significant time reviewing the findings from past major incidents such as London Bridge and the Manchester Arena and considered how our processes and people can be better prepared to support the emergency services and the general public in times of major crisis. A key finding in common from these reviews and from others globally, has been to highlight the importance of first or zero responders in giving medical attention to those injured while waiting for the emergency services to arrive. Where there is a lockdown situation the first responders are critical in giving medical attention which very often is directly correlated to saving lives.
It is important to review security officers’ medical knowledge, skills and ability to deliver support and we realised there were gaps we could fill and areas to improve on. As an example, Ward Security has created and introduced emergency trauma packs (ETPs) and acid wash stations at some of our client sites and has provided additional training in how to properly use these packs.
Valuing security officers
Looking ahead at the challenges for us as a business next year, one of the hardest ones for us to resolve is ensuring that our security officers are valued and remunerated in line with the importance and professionalism of the role. I have written on this subject before, but it merits another mention. We want to pay the living wage as a minimum wherever we can to our officers; however, on occasion we are restricted by our clients and their willingness to pay. I can’t emphasise enough how important a role security officers have in our society in keeping us, our people and buildings safe. We must retain these people.
Our industry has matured and undergone a step change in professionalism, and as such, we need to recognise our security officers for the true professionals they are and pay them their worth, beyond the living wage. They are key assets and players in the security of our nation. The bottom line is that if we are not willing to pay them enough, we will not attract or keep good people in our industry.
They say look after the people and the rest is easy, but that is hard when our people need better financial compensation. We provide the best we possibly can and in addition, we load them up with employee benefits and invest in enhancing their skills for career development. However, we need our clients to support our view.
This is absolutely not about financially squeezing our clients to make additional profit; it is all about having the ability to pay fairly and keep the best people in security jobs.
Attracting more young people into security
Linked to this point is how we can attract more bright, young people into the security industry. Our challenge is to get them to view security roles beyond a nightclub doorman. To see it as an industry that is innovative and exciting where you can have a rewarding and meaningful career and make a difference.
To facilitate this aspiration, we have become very involved in the Next Generation initiative.
Overall, our industry has lots to be proud of, so reflecting on the year and how the industry is progressing is mostly positive for me. There is enough work and appetite for everyone to collaborate with each other and in doing so, exciting new ideas that keep evolving our security industry continue to come to light.
I am looking forward to 2020 and the next round of collaborative ideas.
CEO, Ward Security