Richard Jenkins clarifies what to look out for in terms of an organisation's security guarding competence.
04 April 2018 | Richard Jenkins
Protecting people and assets is at the heart of a security team's mission. With new threats to business continuity, security guarding is as critical as ever in managing that risk. Only those operating to high British and international standards provide organisations with the necessary reassurance.
The obvious test
SIA Licensing of security officers has been in place since 2001. It should ensure that private security operatives are 'fit and proper' people, who are trained and qualified. It is mandatory for all operatives working under contract in: door supervision, security guarding, cash and valuables in transit, key-holding, close protection, public space CCTV, and in Northern Ireland, vehicle immobilisation. The licence is required to be worn and on display at all times. This licence, while a good test of an employee's capability, does not signify expertise in all security activities, nor is it a statement about a firm's competence to deliver guarding services.
Developing and applying standards
Determining levels of professionalism and competence for security guarding companies requires benchmarks. In the security sector recognised standards, for example, the provision of key holding - BS7984-1:2016, of static site guarding services - BS7499:2013, and detection dogs - BS8517-2, serve specific purposes.
Industry experts who develop such standards are supported by independent certification bodies like the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), to ensure good practice embodied in standards is readily evidenced in the field. This means buyers can be confident in service providers' compliance with effective standards.
Proving compliance relies on independent approval by a United Kingdom Accreditation Service-accredited certification body. Organisations prove their integrity, competence and professionalism to buyers of services by virtue of such approvals.
Managing supplier risk
Ensuring that security guarding suppliers operate to high standards means scrutinising the approvals they have for the services they deliver. These confirm technical competence, consider business viability, confirm meeting statutory and legal requirements and check operational aspects - for example, insurances, security risk assessments and security operative assignment instructions. Quality management systems (QMS) approval requires a culture of continual improvement to be demonstrated.
Invitations to tender and security guarding supplier selection criteria often specify a more robust assessment of management practices. The audit of QMS to ISO 9001, a requirement of NSI Gold approval, checks for evidence of routine review of business risks and continual improvement. Applying the requirements of the ISO standard in the context of the security guarding sector, auditors qualified in both QMS and security product/service standards (such as those referenced above) are better able to assess compliance and evidenced good practice in the sector, adding weight to approval credentials from specialist certification bodies.
Changes in play for security guarding
The security officer's role evolves as technology advances. Body-worn video (BWV), for example, used by security officers in shopping centres and other public spaces, poses personal data security questions for operators in its storage and use of video footage. BWV falls within the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) Code of Practice. Firms operating such systems should complete SCC self-assessment to determine the degree of compliance with the code's 12 guiding principles. The threat of terrorism has meant that many security officers receive guidance from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office. The guarding community is increasingly eyes and ears for the police.
Richard Jenkins is chief executive of NSI (National Security Inspectorate)