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Imbert Prize winning essay

In our August 2015 print issue, we gave you a digest of the Imbert Prize-winning research by Peter Finch, on violence in the NHS. Here we go into more detail about the local security management specialists (LSMS), as surveyed by Peter.

Pictured is the presentation to Peter, right, at the Association of Security Consultants (ASC) annual lunch at the RAF Club, Piccadilly, by Lord Imbert, centre; ASC chairman Joe Connell is pictured left.

Most LSMS were given their role as an addition to an existing role, although the majority that were already employed by their trust and given the role of LSMS were given a choice about accepting. Subject A has been involved in security management for over 28 years and states: “I was [already] a trust security manager when I undertook the training …. there were a number of people within the cohort who had no real security management background. They were almost plucked from an organisation to sit and undertake the course because ‘we have to have one of these people.’” The lack of choice by nearly a third of LSMS, with considerable pay differentials could be seen as a potential de-motivator and lead to a less than proactive effort in leading on security management work, where a greater focus on other work such as health and safety may be seen by the LSMS as their ‘priority’. This is the case for one subject, a health and safety manager who on commencing his LSMS role was given only the names of five police officers of which four were no longer in post. He had to commence from scratch, he adds: “The biggest weakness for me was the fact that I probably needed assistance to start the [LSMS] job because it was full load; ‘let’s get your [security] polices, your procedures, your processes up and running’ but I didn’t.” In terms of formal education most LSMS are not academically qualified in security management, although a higher number of LSMS are academically qualified in a non-security related discipline. Very few LSMS hold non-academic security certifications or diplomas such as the ASIS CPP or Security Institute diploma. None of the subject interviewees were effusive about their LSMS training.

In almost half of trusts the evidence suggests that a proactive approach in assessing the risk of violence has not been established without which it is unlikely that the working environment will be enhanced and assaults against staff effectively reduced. One subject suggested that staff can be barriers to reducing violence and aggression. Another agreed: “To me the barriers are our staff ….. because they have an acceptance of violence and aggression within certain departments and we need to change that culture …. the issue is that they need to report it.” Although significant numbers of staff are not reporting incidents of verbal abuse or violence (as according to an IPSOS Mori poll in 2010) the evidence suggests that the majority of staff at least know how to report a violent incident although there are a small number that are either unsure or do not know how to report an incident. Where staff have been a victim of a violent incident virtually all of them have access to support services should they need it. As for the investigation of assaults, in slightly more than half of trusts arrangements are in place to ensure that allegations of assaults against staff are investigated in a timely and proportionate manner; in the remainder of trusts such incidents are not always investigated. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the police, Crown Prosecution Service and NHS Protect in 2011 was to create closer working arrangements to reduce the problem of violence and antisocial behaviour in the NHS with the intention that agreements would be negotiated and made locally. However, with one exception, all of the interviewees stated that at a local level the MoU is ineffective and is not known by the police.

About the writer
While Peter Finch since last year has been Security Manager at the Coventry Building Society, for several years before he was a hospital security specialist, after serving as a Royal Air Force officer of the Provost (Police and Security) Branch; hence this dissertation (supervised by Phil Wood) as part of a Bucks New University masters degree course.

Who’s who in the NHS
Here are the two groups involved with security management in the National Health Service:
– NHS Protect, previously the Counter-Fraud and Security Management Service; launched in 2003 as a central body with a training centre in Coventry. Visit;
– LSMS – Local Security Management Specialist, the manager in charge of security at a trust such as a hospital.


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