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ASIS 25: the early years

In 2018 the UK chapter of the security management body ASIS is 25. Peter Graysmark, life Vice-President goes over the first seven years after its founding in 1993. (Pictured from 1993 is the charter, and ASIS VP Egil Kopperud, UK Chairman Mike Bowles and Chad Rea, with a suitably London background.)

In May 1993 Michael Bowles received the Chapter 208 UK Charter from Chad Rea, ASIS President, and work began on improving security education and fellowship for members.

The year 1994 saw the Certified Protection Professional examination established in the UK and since then CPP Review weekends and final exams have been held here annually. In two consecutive years 100pc of entrants passsed the exam, and this set the standard often remarked upon by USA executives. Also In 1994 the European Region XX Conference was successfully held in London. At this time there were some 250 signed-up UK Chapter members.

Later that same year Mike Bowles handed the Chapter chairmanship to Mervyn David, who continued the work already started. Mervyn started fellowship weekends with a group going to the Goodwood Hotel and Country Club for a black tie dinner/dance and social weekend. Annual weekend events thereafter took members across the Channel to Bruges, Rheims and Lille, and various venues around the UK, forming the basis for regular fellowship weekends and an annual dinner/dance attended by over 100 members and guests.

In 1995 membership continued to grow as we established a regular annual pattern of three seminars and an AGM. Subjects covered by quality speakers at our educational seminars covered all facets of the security industry while attendance steadily rose over the years resulting in some venues being completely sold-out. Attendance at the Chapter AGM also rose steadily from around 60 in 1993 to over 120 in 2000.

Under Mervyn David’s Chairmanship the Chapter Scholarship Fund was formed. The fund provided people with financial assistance to follow university level security studies. Sadly the first student died suddenly before completing his studies, but others studied for a Masters Degree and one for a Doctoral Research project on arson.

In 1996 the Chapter manned its first stand at IFSEC [then newly moved to the NEC, Birmingham from London] and continued to mount an annual presence since. ASIS UK was joined in this venture by ASIS HQ. With membership in 1996 rising to 419 it became necessary to appoint an admin manager to control and organise the production and mailing of Chapter material. In this same year a close liaison was established with Bruce George [the then Labour MP for Walsall South who had been endeavouring since 1977 to promote the regulation of the security industry]. The UK Chapter joined with the Joint Security Industrial Council [JSIC, a now defunct security body of bodies] to try to enhance the identity and influence of the security industry by seeking a change of government thinking both here in the UK and within the wider context of Europe.

In 1998 as membership moved above the 500 mark it became clear that a more formal arrangement was needed to administer the Chapter. Jude Awdry was appointed as the Chapter Admin Manager tasked with establishing the smooth running of Chapter administration – a job she has performed admirably and very successfully. The year 1998 also saw the formation of a Chapter Library aimed at providing members with a range of security publications on loan for study and research purposes. Following the sad death of Bill Robinson the Library was named after him.

Geoff Whitfield took over as third Chapter Chairman and stated his intention to continue to build on the security education and fellowship theme that Mervyn David had so admirably established. Geoff’s mission was also to promote professionally strong seminars and sponsorship for social events such as the annual golf tournament to make them self-financing and to help boost the Scholarship Fund. The Chapter also moved into the electronic computer age with the launch of its own website, which has continued to develop as a source of ASIS information and promotion of the Chapter.

The year 1998 also saw the establishment of a committee to examine the viability of launching an Institute of Security that would provide a central body for assessing the wide variety security qualifications and experience. The Chapter continued to support individuals and groups endeavouring to achieve security industry legislation and regulation. This finally paid off when the joint efforts of Bruce George, the Home Office, and the security industry resulted in a Government White Paper on security being published.

In 1999 the good work continued and the UK chapter was nominated for both Chapter of the Year and Newsletter of the Year awards. Unfortunately, against stiff opposition, we failed to win either of the awards but the Chapter was given ‘honourable mention’ in both categories. This was an unprecedented gesture on the part of ASIS HQ.

The year 2000 brought an increase in membership to 670, and it is worth mentioning here that Nigel Flower CPP was Membership Secretary since before the Chapter’s foundation in 1993. In early 2000 the Legal Aspects Committee finalised the formulation of the UK legal questions for the UK CPP examination. Although initial work began in 1999, the task proved long and onerous but our efforts finally satisfied the examining board in the USA. As a result, in November the Chapter held the first CPP exam in the UK containing UK Legal questions. The year also saw the Chapter sponsoring the Ted Legge annual essay competition providing prizes worth £200 to each of the best essays on security subjects at three UK universities – Cranfield, Leicester and Loughborough. The competition aimed to encourage professionalism and excellence in the industry.

The year 2000 also saw the establishment of the Professional Validation Board formed to approve applications for membership of the “Institute of Security”. The main thrust behind the establishment of this industry-wide initiative was the Chapter 208 Committee and the particular driving force of Geoff Whitfield. It was anticipated that the Security Institute will serve the whole of the industry.

At the start of 2001 ASIS UK installed as fourth Chairman, Bill Wyllie and a 20-member committee that comprised some old stalwarts and some refreshing new blood. It was anticipated that the Chapter would continue to grow and progress to even greater things. A fourth Annual Dinner/Dance was held in February and in May 2001 the chapter looked forward to hosting the European regional Conference and Exhibits programme in London when over 200 attendees were expect. A far cry from humble beginnings, but there was still much to do and a great deal to achieve.


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