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The UK chapter of the security management association ASIS has a record number of members, the group heard at its AGM in London.

Like other security membership bodies and groups more generally, if the covid lockdowns had raised fears for survival of such associations, they have thrived. While the AGM, at Informa near Blackfriars Bridge – giving a fine 19th floor view of the city as afternoon turned to night – was the first gathering since the pandemic, as Tim Molden, board member for membership and awards, told the event: “One thing the pandemic did was give us all the opportunity for self-development.”

And that is something the Chapter is looking to carry on: whether through offering mentoring, the website (with a new look, as arranged by the board’s comms member, Caroline Bashford) or – what Tim Molden has been running through 2021 – an ‘end of the month’ club, that he hopes to carry on in person, in 2022.

Richard Brooks, the board member for the Chapter’s Young Professionals Group (YP), told the event: “We are seeing the security industry really diversifying and also seeing more and more young people come through, who actually are falling into the industry – slightly by accident; they don’t even realise they are in the security industry until they are in it.”

The YP committee is its largest yet, he reported, ten: Iris Wickham, Patrick Rogers, Marc Gibson, Leo Kelly, Arevika Stepanian, Emily Warburton-Brown; Michael Bell, Laurie Wilson and Tom Goodwin (plus Richard).

The annual Mervyn Day award, in memory of an ASIS and industry stalwart, was presented by UK Chapter chair Letitia Emeana to Emma Shaw, of the electronic counter-surveillance consultancy Esoteric, a former chair of the Security Institute.

Speaking earlier, Letitia told the AGM that the association was about connecting; she was pleased that people had stuck with ASIS, and had seen its benefits. The board (pictured after the AGM) came together in January – the previous chair was Russell Penny, who was among attenders – set three objectives, she said: to grow membership and visibility and support. While it had been a tough year, the Chapter had some great plans for next year, she said.

Chapter treasurer Stuart Nash set out the finances. Earlier, the gathering heard from speakers, on varied and topical subjects. First, the former policeman now consultant Philip Grindell of Defuse Global, who specialises in the security of people in the public eye; as featured in the April and September 2020 print editions of Professional Security; whether parliamentarians, corporate executives, or entertainers.

Leigh Harper, principal security consultant at the engineering consultancy firm Cundall, then spoke about the likely upcoming Protect Duty, that would place a legal requirement on UK sites and venues – even parks and beaches – to secure people from terrorism. While questions from the floor suggested that what the Home Office proposes is met with scepticism by some security professionals, Leigh Harper set out how protection from terror and other threats should be about more than good measures and plans. For what if you are part of a multi-tenanted building, or among neighbouring businesses as at Borough Market (near the AGM). How to ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities?

While the Protect Duty once made law will go some way towards defining who has responsibility for what, she said, a business owner has some responsibility to do that themselves; by talking to neighbours, tenants and managing operators of a building, to work out how plans complement each other. It’s also to train staff in what to do; and know how to operate products that may be installed; otherwise, plans no matter how ideal are a waste of time and money, she pointed out.

Arguably the most novel subject, at least to a security audience, was by Leo Kotlyar, founder of DeWarrior; and Andrew de Roy, founder of Bearstone, a business intelligence and advisory firm. They spoke about the cannabis industry, which could see exponential growth as around the western world the product becomes more legal. That brings risks – in ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and reputational (as the plant still has a stigma, despite its many potential uses, from soap and shampoo to cement and carpets) and more directly security risks, such as protecting the plant from theft if it’s grown, processed and distributed.

Among the new board members: Richard Stevens was re-elected by members to cover education and development; Arevika Stepanian of STM Security Group was elected, to cover DEI (diversity, equality and inclusion); and to take over from Dawn Holmes as vice-chairman, Darren Carter of Edwardian Hotels London returns. The Chapter has a new secretary, Joseph Hana, who takes over from Greg Robertson.

See also the January 2022 print edition of Professional Security magazine.


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