The vital role of security staff

The three Ps – ‘People, Property, Places: Professionally Protected’ – that’s the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) campaign slogan, to increase awareness of the crucial work that security officers carry out, 24 hours.

BSIA website campaign page features security industry careers, skills and training, security-officer profiles and links to live job offers. An outline of the campaign was aired on the BSIA stand during the IFSEC 2022 show in London in May, including logo (pictured) and featured in the July print edition of Professional Security.

The BSIA wants to highlight that a career in security offers benefits and opportunities that are open to anyone, from any background, ethnicity, sexuality and age group. A report the trade body has released backs up the need for more people – and more young blood – even as the regulator the Security Industry Authority reports a record, 400,000, people SIA-badged.

While those SIA badged people range in age from 18 to 97, the median age is 40. Some 25 per cent of licence holders are under 30; about one in ten, 11pc, are over 60. Whether working on the front line or behind the scenes as a CCTV operator, whether in tech or with canines, security is not, the BSIA says emphatically, not a minimum-wage career. Quoted are Iain McCallister, CEO of BSIA member MAN Commercial Protection; and Andras Szabo, security superviser at Battersea Power Station, the new top-end retail, leisure and residential development in south London, guarded by the contractor Bidvest Noonan, another BSIA member.

The association sees demand – whether due to tech or laws – for more skilled, specialised and responsive security staff. It says that says that from surveying among BSIA members, who provide over 70 per cent of private security services in the UK, the UK’s private security sector needs to boost the number of licensed security officers by 62,000, to more than 450,000, over the next 12 months to meet growing demand and departures from the sector. The industry anticipates losing almost 20,000 officers from its workforce through factors including retirement and departures due to Brexit and Covid-19.

Interest, the trade body says, in engaging private security services has increased after the Government’s Protect Duty proposal, launched in the wake of the Manchester Arena terrorist bombing in May 2017. That would create a legal requirement for sites and venues to provide proportionate security measures. BSIA members also cite rising crime, the UK ‘substantial’ terror threat level and more incidents involving members of the public with mental health issues (more on that in the December print edition of Professional Security Magazine) as factors driving increased demand for security services.

Mike Reddington, Chief Executive of the BSIA, said: “The private security industry faces unprecedented demand for highly trained, licensed security officers, with organisations and events recognising they need to purchase security services based on risk and professionalism rather than cost. Security is more than a high-vis vest and buyers are more willing to invest in quality now to achieve a safer, more secure environment.

“Our members and their customers anticipate that the Government’s Protect Duty, introduced in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack, will become law sooner rather than later. Businesses such as event producers know they need to spend more on professional security officers trained in terror-threat awareness and emergency first aid in order to protect people better.

“As a sector we are moving quickly to attract more security officers into the industry, letting people know security can be a career of choice for team players who care about providing a professional service to protect people, property and places and who will commit to the training. Failure to achieve this could compromise public safety and some big events may not be able to happen as planned.”

“The stereotypical image of a security officer working in a low-paid, low-skilled job doesn’t match with those working in today’s modern profession. There’s a lot more to the job than wearing a hi-vis vest.”

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