WHAT ARE THE KEY AREAS THAT DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF A SECURITY OPERATION?
Often, customers buy security based on a visible need, perhaps a recent incident or insurance process. There is nothing wrong with this as a driver for reviewing security, as often a well-placed security officer can provide a great service, acting as the first point of contact and access control for a site. But I believe more can be done. When a holistic security solution is designed, it takes into consideration factors such as the technology available to support the manned guarding and the need for a visible deterrent. We also need to consider the skills required to mitigate the specific risk.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD YOU ASK TO REVIEW YOUR OPERATION EFFECTIVELY?
Many sites use a form of ‘castle and keep’ protection. Some will use fencing to protect the perimeter, or keep, while others will use more decorative landscaping, coupled with CCTV coverage. Both options have merit, depending on the facility, but this is the starting point for your review. Once comfortable that the perimeter is covered, how about the main building (castle)? When choosing a security solution, it is important to detail the known or perceived risks to the site. It is also important to consider the unexpected risks, such as information in servers or valuables held on site.
Once the physical aspects are under control, we need to look at how security officers can maintain the integrity of the site while not impeding the work of the business. Security would ideally be a visible presence at the point of entry, whether a gatehouse or reception, working in conjunction with a reception team and present at peak times or during an incident. This allows for internal and external patrols, which are not just about closing windows and doors but act as the eyes and ears of the facilities team, identifying hazards or maintenance issues and acting as a reassuring visible presence for the staff as well as a deterrent to others. The security team needs to be part of the company ‘family’ and an active part of the business continuity programme.
If your security people appear to be always in the same place, bored, or just waiting for the next activity, it is time to break the monotony and introduce random activities that encourage them to investigate, review, feedback and be part of the wider business. This is also where technology that supports the physical presence comes into its own.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN TECHNOLOGY TOOLS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
The first thing to consider is CCTV covering the perimeter, main access points and high-risk areas. Cameras are now available that use analytics to identify suspicious activity, which can be fed to an officer on patrol using a smartphone that allows them to react to situations promptly. This takes away the need for banks of monitors in a security office. Automatic number plate recognition at the entrance can restrict access for unauthorised vehicles. It can also act as a welcome point for visitors with a message board directing them to a parking place.
The other piece of technology that I would suggest are access control systems. These can alert security officers to doors held open or fire exits activated. If you find the use of paper visitors’ badges old fashioned, new HID access control cards are available that will take a photo of the visitor, detail the host’s name, and provide basic access to the general areas on a temporary and rewritable access card. The visitor books in at reception or via a virtual tablet. The card is produced behind reception and the host is prompted to come and collect their guest, at which point the card is given to the visitor and access is granted. This also reduces paper usage.
A mobile and agile security team can use smartphones to react to access control and CCTV when they are out on site. If a report can be done on paper, it can also be captured on a smartphone, whether it is to log searches, vehicle safety checks and alarm activations or track server room temperatures. The data captured can form part of the daily activity log for the business and be made available to the FM team online.
WHICH TRAINING COURSES AND QUALIFICATIONS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED?
Training is dependent on the site and the activity taking place there. Security is often the first point of contact with a business. After the appropriate licence training for the role, I believe that customer service and report writing are the key skills that the team requires to provide the best impression of your company. Additional training can be taken online to add skills in health and safety, data protection and manual handling. Once you have decided how you want security to fit into the company family, skills-based training in first aid or first response and fire marshalling would be a logical step.
WHAT DOES A GOOD SECURITY SERVICE LOOK LIKE IN YOUR OPINION?
A good service exists when the security team is valued as an integral part of the business. This starts with paying the team more than living wage and reviewing the rostering practices to take account of work-life balance. Having trained the team to perform the tasks, it’s important to show appreciation when they perform well, enforcing the company policies and protecting the business. A well thought-out list of tasks, duties and activities to keep the team busy and alert, in conjunction with effective use of technology, will create a formidable security solution. Trained and appreciated teams perform better and are proactive in support of your business.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR THE UK SECURITY MARKET?
This is an exciting time for the industry, as science and technology continue to transform the way we live and the threats we face. The private sector is becoming increasingly adept at operating in a fast-paced and often uncertain environment, and will have a growing role in support of the public sector and policing. Ultimately a security service is still about people, values and a passion to deliver the best service possible. Technology is important, but not at the expense of investing in people; it’s every individual within a team that make the biggest difference in helping customers to manage their risk.