Security HQ: The BSIA Blog
Europe: setting an example for public/private policing
James Kelly, Chief Executive of the BSIA, reports back from a recent trip to Madrid, where he found out more about how the UK's private security industry compares to its European counterparts.
As the BSIA continues to promote the important role that the private security industry plays in delivering essential support to police forces across the UK, I was keen to attend last month’s European Security Summit to find out more about the extent to which the attitudes and perceptions of the UK are mirrored elsewhere in Europe.
The summit – the fourth edition of this annual event – was organised by the Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS), of which the BSIA is an active member. Founded in 1989, CoESS represents 27 national private security Associations in a total of 25 countries across 18 EU member states.
With presentations delivered from security forces in Belgium, France, Sweden, and of course, Spain, the event gave BSIA representatives a fascinating insight into how the relationship between the police and private security industry has been established and developed outside of the UK.
As the BSIA has learned through our continued engagement with Parliamentarians and Police and Crime Commissioners, there still remain some key barriers to the partnership working approach here in the UK, with trust, accountability and the delivery of true value for money three of the most important factors raised in our discussions.
While some of these barriers also existed for our European counterparts, it was encouraging to see how they had been overcome through transparency, mutual trust and a clear definition of responsibilities and limitations. Against a backdrop of economic austerity, there is clear recognition across the political spectrum here in the UK of the need to consider new and innovative resourcing solutions within the public sector, and certainly, these European examples give us food for thought.
In Belgium, for example, partnership is important, and the private security industry is an important partner for Police, according to Eddy De Raedt of the Belgian Federal Police. Here, the approach to partnership working has been carefully planned, taking into account the legal and functional implications of private sector involvement to set out clear limits and accountability, while ensuring that synergies are created to strengthen the force with specific crime phenomena in mind, such as metal theft or jewellery theft.
To support this approach, the flow of information between private and public sector providers was streamlined and a line of communications for security officers and alarm monitoring centres to report crimes directly was created.
According to Mr De Raedt, among the success factors fuelling the further development of the partnership approach are the presence of shared goals, a clear and transparent approach and a positive, “yes we can” mentality. Such a cohesive, open-minded approach – along with the sharing of best practice between police and industry practitioners – sets an impressive example of how barriers to partnership working can be overcome here in the UK.
The BSIA’s discussions with Parliamentarians have revealed that one of the biggest barriers to increased partnership working in the UK is the perception of the private security industry assuming police powers without suitable checks and balances. As the BSIA works to dispel this myth of a ‘privatised police force’ among British police and Parliamentarians, a glance at the Swedish private security industry provides an excellent example of where security powers can be shared in a measured, clearly defined way.
According to Richard Orgård of Almega – the BSIA’s Swedish equivalent – a partnership approach can contribute towards the creation of more jobs and lower security costs for most countries. Here, the role of private security personnel is given even greater credence, with a select group of officers working in certain locations, including airports, shopping malls, hospitals and subways, being given limited police powers including the power of arrest and the ability to bear arms.
These additional powers are bestowed upon such officers with the permission of police, who retain ultimate responsibility over the policing of public areas. According to Mr Orgård’s presentation at the CoESS summit, this special type of security officer can be utilised for a number of functions, including the transportation of apprehended people, isolation of a crime scene, witness protection and alcohol testing.
At present, British police officers perform far too many tasks that don't necessarily require the presence of a warranted officer, many examples of which are mentioned above in our Swedish example. With the introduction of a new era of regulation, including business licensing, the BSIA and its members hope that this will serve to increase police confidence in working alongside our industry. Certainly, the examples we learned about at the CoESS Summit will provide interesting talking points for our future Parliamentary contact meetings, and allow us to provide important evidence that a partnership approach really can work in practice.
With the BSIA’s political engagement programme for 2013 now in full swing, the Association is continuing to represent the private security industry at all levels of government, highlighting the important role that the sector can play in supporting police forces across the UK, and I look forward to updating you on our progress in future editions of the blog.
Adrian Mealing: A pan-European foothold for UK alarm manufacturers
Adrian Mealing, Chairman of the Security Equipment Manufacturers’ Section of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), explores the issue of pan-European certification and how the advent of new European legislation would signal a new era for the UK’s intruder alarms market.
According to members of the BSIA’s Export Council – a forum for UK security companies focused on increasing their business abroad – technological innovation is the main factor that currently attracts overseas buyers to UK security products. Despite this, over a third of Export Council members reported in a recent survey that the costs of getting products officially certified in foreign markets is the biggest barrier to growing their business abroad.
This barrier is particularly apparent in Europe, where, under current rules, each UK company intending to export their security solutions across the EU is forced to undergo separate testing of products for most of the countries they wish to export to. This means, for example, that an alarm that is compliant to the auditing requirements in France cannot necessarily be sold in Germany, unless it is being retested specifically for the German market. This onerous process is not only time consuming, but is also financially burdensome, as the costs and time associated with the separate testing of the same products in each country is considerable.
This issue is in direct conflict with the primary mission of the European Union, to allow for fairer trade across its member countries and stimulate competition. Smaller companies in fact, risk being discriminated against, as they are unable to sustain the costs they encounter each time they set out to achieve local quality marks.
The BSIA and its Security Equipment Manufacturers Section (SEMS) have been long term supporters of the principle of pan-European certification, whereby the quality mark of a security product is recognised in all EU member countries.
This is to ensure consistently high – and more uniform – quality of products and systems, promoting technical innovation and investment into what is now a fragmented industry, in keeping with the aims of European policy. As mentioned above, one of the European Union’s main objectives is to facilitate reciprocal trade between its member countries. In actual fact, however, this has not translated as effectively as companies operating in the security equipment manufacturers’ environment may have hoped for. Increasingly, standards have been written to provide the platform for uniform independent testing, but this in itself is not enough.
Alex Carmichael, Technical and Export Director at the BSIA, comments: “Although the European Union has proved successful in shaping regulations and standards applicable to the security industry, it has not managed to streamline the testing process for security solutions. A uniformed testing process could be achieved by introducing pan-European certification, which would provide a one-stop shop for all quality marks across the continent. This would mean that security products exported would be assessed against requirements shared by all EU countries, therefore dramatically improving the quality of products entering the market and reducing the confusion surrounding which tests are needed for each country. In addition, pan-European certification would reduce costs for companies, allowing even smaller businesses to stand a chance to compete on a European level.”
The BSIA’s SEMS section have vocally supported the benefits of making pan-European certification a legal requirement in the EU, as it is the section’s belief that this would provide a more favourable international trading environment for security manufacturers. More recently, members of the section have welcomed the announcement of a EU-wide industrial policy for the security industry, issued in July 2012 by the European Commission.
The policy represents a significant step towards pan-European certification, and aims to increase harmonisation between EU member countries, reducing the severe fragmentation that currently exists in the European security marketplace and removing trade barriers that restrict the ability of UK security equipment manufacturers to expand their product offering to other countries within the EU.
In recognition of the problems that currently exist, the European Commission’s policy acknowledges that “a competitive and innovative security industry is [fundamental to] any viable European security policy,” and pledges to reduce the fragmentation that currently restricts EU-wide harmonisation.
Through their involvement in RISC and Euralarm, members of the BSIA’s Security Equipment Manufacturers’ Section (SEMS) have contributed directly to the European Commission’s policy consultation and welcome the opportunities it brings in encouraging fairer trade across EU member countries and subsequently, in stimulating competition.
Results of the consultation revealed that independently of their background (be it SME, large corporate or public authority), stakeholders underlined the clear added value of a European-wide certification regime, highlighting four key benefits that this would bring, not least the reduction of the administrative and financial burden brought about by the duplication of current certification procedures.
Alex Carmichael adds: “This policy represents an excellent starting point for harmonisation across the EU, and is set to have a monumental impact on views and procedures in EU countries. We at the BSIA hope that this policy will drive test houses to adopt a European – rather than national – focus, increasing quality standards across the board.”
Respondents to the European Commission’s consultation also expressed concern for the fragility of the EU security market in comparison to its international competitors, and agreed that an industrial policy framework could help the European security industry regain its competitive edge in the global market.
“With an estimated market value of as much as €36.5bn, the EU security market has real potential to compete with the likes of China and the U.S.” continues Alex Carmichael. “Removing trade barriers and creating a one-stop testing regime will not only increase exporting opportunities for UK companies, but will also help to drive the overall professionalism of the European security industry.”
To find out more about the BSIA’s SEMS section, visit http://www.bsia.co.uk/security-equipment-manufacturers.
Simon Adcock: Planning perimeter protection - Top Ten Considerations
This month's guest blogger is Simon Adcock, Chairman of the BSIA's CCTV Section, who is discussing the importance of perimeter protection in preventing business losses.
It is often thought that the purpose of a perimeter security system is to detect intruders, but its real function is part of an overall strategy to prevent business losses. Many also fail to consider the potentially devastating damage to business continuity or reputation, which might result from an incidence of theft, vandalism or even arson. Here are the 10 most important functions that should be considered when planning a well-thought-out perimeter protection solution:
1) DETER - Most organisations would prefer potential intruders to think twice and go looking for a softer target. This needs to be balanced against the preference of some organisations not to “advertise” their security. CCTV cameras can be a deterrent but sometimes it's hard to beat a big fence in this respect.
2) PREVENT/DELAY - Generally achieved by physical security measures designed either to prevent unauthorised entry or to delay intruders pending the arrival of an on-site presence. Even if people have easy access to your site, controlling vehicle access can make a big contribution to minimising loss.
3) DETECT - A core function of a perimeter security system is to detect unauthorised activity. The ability to filter out normal activity is key to minimising false alarms and improving performance. Relatively dumb motion detectors are being overtaken by sophisticated video analytics because of this.
4) ALERT - An appropriate person (i.e. someone with the means, motivation and authorisation to respond) needs to be alerted to the issue in real-time. The key to minimising loss is to be able to intervene straight away, which for those without their own control room means an RVRC (remote video receiving centre). An email/text to your iPhone might seem sufficient, but can you be relied upon to read your emails and texts immediately?
5) ASSESS - That appropriate person needs to be given the information to determine whether the alert is genuine and to gauge the nature of the threat. For this, there is no substitute for seeing it with your own eyes and in that respect, it's hard to beat an image from a CCTV or thermal detection camera.
6) RESPOND - Alerting the intruders to the fact that they are being watched is often all that is needed to prompt a swift change of plan. Typically this is done by switching on lights or audio challenge. It's a good idea to have a reputable guarding company who can respond in person in case this doesn't work, and potentially to check the integrity of the site even if it does. Depending on workload, the Police will normally respond quickly to a confirmed alarm with video evidence but there is no guarantee of this. A skilled thief can be in and out of a property surprisingly quickly with some of your most important IT equipment.
7) MONITOR - What happens once an operator has intervened? Does the unauthorised activity cease or continue and if there are intruders where are they now? If a guard is investigating how will he find them, and how do the intruders then react?
8) EVIDENCE - It is crucial that the system provides evidence of what happened and how it happened. Even if the organisation or the Police choose not to prosecute then video evidence can provide valuable information that can help lessons to be learned.
9) CONTROL - How is the system to be set and unset? What other measures might an operator need to control that could minimise losses, such as identity management/access control.
10) AUDIT - If something goes wrong it's important to know who knew what and when, and what they did about it. This can be a vital tool to learning lessons and preventing future losses.
Patrick Dealtry: 2013 a 'period of expansion' for lone worker market
This month's guest blogger is Patrick Dealtry, Chairman of the BSIA's Lone Worker Steering Group, who is reflecting on the recent growth of the lone worker market, and what 2013 is set to bring for the sector.
This is both a first and a last; the first Lone Worker blog for the BSIA and the last blog before the BSIA's Lone Worker Steering Group becomes a fully-fledged Section in its own right.
This is a good thing; a New Year means new beginnings and it reflects a time at which the Lone Worker market is coming of age.
So first let me look backward and then forward. 10 years ago there was no such thing as a Lone Worker market. Those of us in at the start had to create it from scratch - and it was hard work. It needed a belief and a good dash of optimism as we lurched forward. There were a number of significant milestones:
- creation of a British Standard at an early stage which gave structure, discipline and credibility
- appreciation by Lone Worker suppliers that this was about service not technology
- acceptance by ACPO that Lone Worker devices did not result in huge numbers of false alarms and were not a problem for their control rooms and response services
- the impact of the very large NHS contract
- first prosecution under the new Corporate Manslaughter Act - which was for a Lone Worker
- the start of the BSIA Lone Worker group
- technical advances resulting in more capable and practical devices
- advent of downloadable apps for smartphones
- entry into the market of large companies like G4S, Mitie and Securitas
- expansion into Lone Worker monitoring by an increasing numbers of ARCs.
Perhaps this period from 2003 to 2012 is best described as a ‘period of education’ for both suppliers and customers; suppliers who discovered what customers really wanted and customers who understand that paying attention to the needs of their Lone Workers really is important for their businesses.
So much for the past, what of the future? I believe the ‘period of education’ will turn into a ‘period of expansion’.
There are probably about 140,000 Lone Worker devices in use at present and many more low risk employees using low level non-standard services.
I believe the next 12 months will see:
- the number of devices double – despite difficult trading conditions
- moves into international markets
- the introduction of more smartphone apps
- entry into the Lone Worker market of established companies already supplying other location based services such as asset and vehicle tracking
- development of the BSIA Lone Worker Section leading to increasing differentiation between companies in the Section and those outside it
- development of the consumer market
- greater focus on training in all aspects of personal safety
Making forecast for the following year is a bit of a mugs game. Fortunately if a week is a long time in politics, then a year in the security industry is long enough for most to forget what happened 12 months ago.
We shall see.
James Kelly: Regulation consultation "hollow" without primary legislation
While 2012 gave our industry much to reflect on, there has certainly been no time to rest on our laurels this month, as 2013 began with a particularly pivotal event: the launch of the Home Office’s official consultation on the future of the regulatory regime for the UK’s private security industry.
Here at the BSIA, we’ve been working up to this moment since the Government’s original announcement regarding the future of regulation – and potential abolition of the SIA – back in 2010. Thankfully, the plans have been much refined since then, and the launch of the consultation paper this month gave us the opportunity to officially canvass the opinions of those members who operate in licensed sectors.
My personal involvement in the development of a new regulatory regime – or NRR as it’s known – is two-fold. Not only do I represent the BSIA and its members on the Home Office’s Transition Steering Group (TSG) as one of two industry representatives, but I also sit on the SIA’s Strategy Consultation Group (SCG), which is the Authority’s main consultative body with industry, specifically focused on regulatory change. The Security Alliance, of which I am Chair, is also represented on the SCG.
In fact, it was at a recent meeting of the TSG – which I attended on 28th January – that the initial results of the Home Office consultation were discussed, and a particularly high response rate was revealed. The Home Office reported that it has received 760 responses to the consultation, which sits in the top 10% of response rates for similar Home Office consultations.
While around 10-15 responses were received from organisations, the Home Office has particularly welcomed the BSIA’s response, I believe both for its uniqueness in representing the views of a whole range of member organisations, and also for its detailed and qualitative response, supported by graphs and further analysis. As such, the Home Office has indicated that it will analyse and reflect on the BSIA’s submission separately, a move which we clearly welcome.
The TSG meeting also enabled me to express my strong beliefs about the need for primary legislation, which will be essential in the development and implementation of the proposed new regulatory regime. It is my opinion that the industry will conclude that the whole consultation effort will have been ‘hollow’ if the Government claims ultimately to have tried, yet failed, to procure primary legislation. For me, it’s essential that no mistakes are made in the process of regulatory change – as an industry, we have to get this right, and primary legislation is the cornerstone of making these changes work.
With this in mind, I have echoed this call for clarity around the issue of primary legislation in other Parliamentary contact meetings I’ve been involved in this month. We already have excellent relationships with key Government figures, but are now increasingly engaging with senior Opposition politicians. Seeking their support for this particular cause led me to meet with two senior Labour figures – Hazel Blears MP and David Blunkett MP – in Westminster last week.
In addition to this, members of the SCG – including myself, as well as several representatives of the Security Regulation Alliance – were invited to meet with Lord Taylor, to discuss the current proposals for the new regulatory regime, and explore the industry’s thoughts in more detail. This meeting was particularly positive, and Lord Taylor pledged his intention to be a supportive advocate for the need for primary legislation across Government.
Next month, I shall be seeking to increase the BSIA’s engagement with Parliamentarians even further, with the Association’s next Parliamentary Roundtable meeting just around the corner. This meeting is due to be chaired by Hazel Blears MP, and will discuss the issue of private security involvement in the delivery of police reform. I am encouraged by Parliamentarians’ keen interest in our industry, and hope that the roundtable meetings that we have planned this year will help further our industry’s influence within both Government and Opposition.
Follow me on Twitter, or keep up-to-date by visiting the BSIA’s website.
John Davies: Exporting "crucial" during economic downturn
In the first edition of the BSIA's blog, the Association's Export Council Chairman, TDSi's John Davies, discusses overseas trends and the role that exporting will play in making 2013 a successful year for the UK's private security industry.
January is a popular time for reflection. With Christmas and New Year out of the way for another 12 months, most sectors of the economy are reviewing their performance in 2012 and looking towards the opportunities in 2013. Undoubtedly the economic challenges of the last few years are still on everyone’s mind and one thing that they have shown is that we are living in a far more global-orientated economy than ever before. This has been borne out by recent research commissioned by the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), which suggests that 85% of respondents felt that the ongoing slowdown in the UK makes exporting even more important and that the security industry is looking beyond the more traditional markets to mine business in perhaps less obvious, but nonetheless profitable and potentially very lucrative markets. In fact the survey goes on to suggest that currently, sales outside the UK account for a very significant 40% to 70% of turnover for BSIA Export Council members – a crucial amount of business.
January sees the 2013 Intersec Dubai show and the BSIA will be making its 15th appearance at this important show. Of the growing markets, the Middle East is undoubtedly a vital one to the UK security industry (70% of BSIA members say they are looking to actively increase business in the region this year) and Intersec Dubai is a major event in our diary. The BSIA Export Council connection, whilst not taking on a regulatory role, does offer an additional confidence to prospective clients and also shows support to member companies, highlighting that the whole sector is backing trade in the region. Many of the UK companies at the show will be exhibiting around the BSIA-organised UK Security Pavilion giving visitors an excellent introduction (or in many cases reintroduction!) to the excellence of the UK security industry.
Whilst Intersec Dubai is a major focus for January, many BSIA members will also have a keen eye on other potentially lucrative markets. A great example are the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa), a rapidly growing set of emerging markets which are hungry to acquire professional security products and services as they continue to build their economies. The CIVETS countries share some important traits, including a great number and variety of export goods and their economies consist mostly of primary products and natural resources. With a combination of bustling economic growth, rapidly evolving infrastructure and the need for expertise, along with security needs like any developing country, the CIVETS offer fantastic opportunities for any security supplier to offer best-of-breed technology and real value for money. The British security industry has the technical and deployment experience, along with an enviable reputation for doing this well and is in a perfect position to help emerging countries secure vital installations and businesses.
Unsurprisingly, 2013 also promises to be another exciting year with regards to security technology development. Putting my access control hat on for a moment, smartphones are likely to even further dominate our lives, using their Near Field Communications (NFC) ability to act as access control identification, potentially replacing more traditional cards and tokens (with obvious convenience and cost-saving benefits). With a growing demand for NFC readers going forward, the security industry will need to look at the pace of adoption, the potential markets for the technology (in theory any vertical market with access control needs could use such a ubiquitous technology) and how it can best meet the needs of customers. But then meeting consumer demands and offering unrivalled support is what the British Security Industry has always done best, so I’m looking forward to a very busy 2013!
For more information about the BSIA and the work of its Export Council, visit the Export Council web page.