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Una Riley catches up with Stefan Hay: January 2014

Una Riley catches up with Stefan Hay of the FSA before his move to become the Director of the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA).

The news that he was leaving the security profession was one of shock. I have known Stefan since he first came into the profession and I know how passionately and tirelessly he has worked to help shape the security sector into the professional platform that exists today. I wanted a candid reflection on his journey from industry to profession. When I caught up with Stefan my initial question was; how do you feel about leaving the security sector? Stefan replied: “Well, after 20 years in the sector, of course it is difficult to say goodbye, although in truth, having worked for the ECA-FSA for the past six years, I have already diversified somewhat in that I have been working primarily in the building engineering services sector …so I suppose that does make it easier to move on. However, I will miss many aspects of the security sector and, of course, a lot of people, but I feel that many opportunities have been lost to genuinely improve the security profession, especially over the last ten years and I have found this immensely frustrating. In some ways the sector has moved on, in other ways it has taken a step backwards. I believe that it certainly continues to lack genuine, powerful, leadership. It’s funny really, because I really thought that I was a leader and was making a difference for a long time, but after being told, by a former colleague, that I was too passionate about the industry, too protective of the profession and too outspoken and confrontational (especially when lobbying the Home Office and the SIA) I believe I joined a long line of industry innovators, including the likes of Ray Clarke and you Una. There were those who fell victim to almost Machiavellian ‘removal’ tactics and were temporarily side-lined … but you can’t keep us down for long!” There are people who will know exactly what Stefan is referring to and it makes me shudder when I think back to that period. We discussed further and then I asked what did he feel he had contributed to the security industry during his time.

Stefan smiled and said: “I believe that I have been genuinely blessed with opportunities over the last 20 years. My involvement with CoESS as chairman of its professional training committee and as a board director, (see photo from 2006 CoESS AGM in Stockholm, with Eduardo Cobas of Spain), gave me an in-depth insight into Europe and how standards and working practices are manipulated to suit certain countries or industry groups. I recall leading the charge (at a meeting in Denmark which later had to be abandoned) against the introduction of a European Standard for guarding that would not only have replaced BS 7499, for an inferior standard, but would have also undermined the work of the SIA to raise standards. Let’s also not forget the move to introduce the ‘Belgian’ (as introduced by the Belgian Ministry of the Interior), model for alarm receiving centres across Europe. This would have meant that rather than ARCs having a direct relationship, with the police and their customers, they would have to provide information to specialised guarding personnel, who ‘intervene’ with a view to ‘improving efficiency and safety’ on site. Of course this was all typical Euro-babble and additional bureaucracy we, in the UK, with our already efficient systems all underpinned by third party certification, could do without and I fought against such nonsense at every opportunity.”

Belgian model
While Stefan was chairman of CoESS I was chairman of SC1 Euralarm (representing the Systems sector) and an EC member. The ‘Belgian model’ was a huge threat to the security systems sector as it would have reduced the installation and design of the electronic security systems sector ultimately to that of a cheap labour force had it been allowed to proceed. This serious threat had already taken hold in Belgium and it was our Belgian colleagues (some of whom had lost their livelihood) that were leading the way on this issue. However, in the interests of the security systems sector in the UK it is the reason I co-founded the FSA alongside Steve Kimber. We had to ensure that the security sector had a strong voice to defend its future. Of course at the time very few people even knew about the Belgian model …which is where the Machiavellian situation arose to which Stefan eluded to. After much discussion Stefan added: “I also really enjoyed working with the wider policing family and during my BSIA, SITO and Skills for Security days acted as principal contact to agencies and departments such as the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the Police National Search Centre, (where I was also a frequent guest speaker), and ACPO, SO15 and the Home Office. This work was both fascinating and rewarding and gave me a great opportunity to demonstrate to the public sector that the private sector has a great deal of expertise and experience to offer.” I asked Stefan to elaborate. He went on: “Some of the projects I got involved with during this time were also very interesting such as ACPO’s TAM committee, weapons awareness for security personnel, campaigning against weapon crime (specifically knife crime), personal safety programmes for women, the introduction of community warden and PCSO schemes, early planning for the 2012 Olympic Games and other projects led by key figures such as Sir Ian Johnston, Sir Ronnie Flanagan and Lord Stevens. Then of course I had the ‘secondment’ period at the SIA where I developed many of the training specifications for licensing and worked on the development of the ACS and negotiated the ‘back certification’ scheme which led to 41,000 SITO trained security guards being granted an exemption from re-training. (I’m sure that saved the guarding companies a few bob!)” I agreed. Having talked about the history of the security sector I wanted to know more. I asked what changes had he seen … good and not so good? Stefan smiled and said: “I like to start on a positive so the good for me would be the creation of the Security Institute, the formation of the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, the creation of the FSA and introduction of licensing for security guards and door supervisors and the resulting introduction of formal trainer’s qualifications and training and qualifications for the guards and door supervisors all helped to start the long journey of professionalisation.

Licence nonsense
“However, with the good comes the bad: The licensing of CVIT (cash and valuables in transit) personnel was absolute nonsense and should never have happened, all it did was impose additional cost on an industry that had excellent operational and training standards, (in fact the training undertaken was some of the best I had ever seen), and which posed no danger to the public, as it was the operatives transporting the cash that were vulnerable. The licensing of remote video receiving centre (RVRC) personnel under the PSS licence, as I have consistently argued, was also nonsense and now both sectors face company licensing, which to me is just another business tax and does not benefit the companies, the customers or the industry as a whole. The lack of refresher training and CPD across the industry is also appalling and in the systems sector the number of apprentices is so low, we almost lost the supporting qualifications framework, as the awarding bodies can’t justify the expense of developing and offering the qualifications. The demise of Skills for Security to the extent of it now being a small part of the BSIA again and the general demise of sector skills organisations is also shameful. The industry has become a talking shop with lots of bluster and very little action. There seems to be too much time spent, especially by the associations, on keeping the SIA, the BSI and Europe happy and not enough time genuinely representing the interests of the industry and lobbying for their needs. Luckily as the ECA-FSA has a more progressive trade association it allowed me a great deal of freedom to continue my lobbying activity and in addition to the creep of European Standards, I have been very vocal on issues such as the Localism Act and unnecessary bureaucracy. Overall, I still think the industry has a long way to go, but there are some ‘green shoots’!”

Who’s impressed
With leadership and politics having been something that has affected the industry in the past I asked, in your opinion who have been the movers and shakers in the industry that have most impressed or influenced you over the past 20 years? Stefan replied: “Ray Clarke the founder of SITO was, and remains, a major influencer and I was delighted that he received the Peter Greenwood Award this year, as his contribution to raising standards in the sector was long overlooked. He was a strong role model in my early days at SITO. Mike Cahalane of the Association of Security Consultants, another unsung hero and past recipient of the Peter Greenwood Award, his support of the FSA and me personally has been wonderful and his knowledge of the security systems industry is second to none. Mike Bluestone the former chairman, and now vice-president, of the Security Institute is a very impressive professional (see photo from the 2003 Defence Industry Association Conference, left) and I have had the pleasure of knowing him and working with him in a range of capacities for circa 20 years and now consider him a very dear friend. Don Randall, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, is another major player in the sector and I had the pleasure of working with him on Project Griffin. Baroness Ruth Henig who brought stability and common sense to the SIA. There are many more, Steve Kimber, Tony Morgan, Tim Geddes, Pat Allan true leaders of the security systems industry. Mick Owen, Roger Bonham, Bill Muskin, Moishe Greenberg, who gave me my first opportunities in operational guarding and close protection and of course you Una, you have been a shining light, inspiration and shoulder to cry on during the darker days and I thank you for your knowledge and support.”

I was touched by Stefan’s comments and will miss him. Finally I asked what he would like to see. He replied: “I would like to see remote video receiving personnel excluded from SIA licensing and companies offering RVRC services excluded from business licensing. I would like to see a strong skills organisation that takes forward the educational needs of the sector, I would also like to see a strong association as the voice of the industry emerge that genuinely adds tangible value to its members and is a credible representative body not afraid to take on Government and any other quango body that interferes with progress for the sector.” Our loss is another sector’s gain; they will benefit from Stefan’s transferable skills.