By David Mundell, Managing Director
It has been a difficult twelve months for our industry that was made more difficult still by the events in Paris and Brussels in November. The attacks served as a timely reminder – if one was needed – of the importance of risk management and the need for a robust crisis management plan should disaster strike.
As we look forward to 2016, many of the challenges we face today will still be with us tomorrow. Clients will still demand well-trained, highly motivated security officers who are prepared to add value beyond security. They will still demand a standard of professionalism that matches their own corporate ethos, and officers who can be both proactive in identifying and mitigating problems before they occur, as well as responding reactively and positively should the need arise. And of course they will still expect all of this and more at a finite cost.
Next year, perhaps, will be the year in which some of the more progressive clients look beyond the balance sheet and to the ‘hidden’ value that many security officers provide, an additional sense of comfort and well-being to employees, a further layer of defence from the more unpleasant side of life; individuals who are often prepared to go beyond what might be reasonably expected of them to protect others. This is not fanciful hyperbole; one only has to look at any of the industry awards to understand that such acts of exceptional bravery occur on a regular basis.
Businesses like ours have previously attached significant importance to the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) accreditation, and in attaining high scores as a way of differentiating our service. This will undoubtedly continue as security providers seek to demonstrate a tangible point of difference, and evidence of continual improvement. What we must ensure, however, is that ACS does not simply become a tick in the box for the procurement department; its importance needs to be fully understood and properly promoted, and this will be an important challenge for the SIA in 2016 and beyond.
Training, so often overlooked in the past because of cost, will also take on new significance, up-skilling security officers not just in physical techniques for dealing with incidents, but perhaps as importantly developing ‘softer’ skills to avoid or manage confrontation should it seem likely. Site-specific training, and operating as part of a client’s wider ‘team’, will also become the norm, if it has not done so already.
Indeed this wider theme of ‘partnerships’ is an important one, and one that will grow significantly. In the future there will be even greater liaison and collaboration with the police and other law enforcement agencies tasked with protecting our cities and our people. Information sharing will increase, and by providing more direct support to specific initiatives such as Operations Griffin and Argus, as well as engaging with local crime reduction campaigns, security providers will be able to tailor more meaningful and informed strategies for protecting their clients.
Our industry has grown in stature and importance over recent years, and global events tend to focus minds and budgets alike. Terrorist threats are not beyond our industry’s remit; I would argue the reverse - that our officers can play a wider role than even current thinking can and will imagine. But such attacks are the exception and not the rule. Our industry, and our officers, need to be supported in the mundane as well as the extraordinary, with rewards and remuneration that properly reflect their contribution to society, and the emergency of a service that provides an opportunity for individuals to continually learn and grow.