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ST17 Scotland speaker profile (3)

Among the speakers at the next in the Security TWENTY series of conference-exhibitions, ST17 Scotland at the Glasgow Hilton on Tuesday, September 5, are Security Industry Authority (SIA) chair Liz France CBE; on the threat from hacking cyber trainer and consultant Mike Gillespie; Maxine Fraser of Retailers Against Crime (RAC), and Paul Grainge from PD Ports, in Middlesbrough.

The event is free to attend, and you can just turn up on the day, although organisers ask that you register online beforehand, to help gauge numbers to cater for.

Here we feature another end user; Dr Declan Garrett, the Security and Safety Manager at the National Gallery of Ireland, in Dublin. And in case you are wondering, that’s a doctorate in security risk management from the University of Portsmouth. He also has a MSc degree from the University of Leicester.

He’s not a stranger to the UK then, nor is he a stranger to speaking in the UK, as he was among the speakers at the first International Arts & Antiquities Security Forum (IAASF) at the Baltic in Gateshead in November 2016; and indeed is among the invited speakers for the second, on November 23 and 24 in central London.

He can talk us through how museums and art galleries have seen high-profile thefts over the years, such as the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911; The Scream from Oslo in 1994; and the theft of a Vermeer from County Wicklow in 1978 when the robber stood behind a curtain, and Security checked the room but did not see the man hiding. As that story suggests, crime doesn’t need a great mastermind; Declan’s point is that people and processes fail. And if you give thieves an opportunity, they will take it.

Declan argues that while security is often sold as a product, such as alarms and CCTV, ‘and we think these things are going to protect us; they don’t; the front line people are the ones that protect us’, as he told the IAASF last year at Gateshead. Security in fact is a ‘people process’.

This informs much of his work, not only at the National Gallery in Dublin (the biggest museum in the Republic of Ireland, which re-opened in June 2017 after years of refurbishment) but in the wider sector, such as developing standards for museum security officers, to give them a better idea of what they are there for, namely to protect the works of art. Declan joined the museum world in 2013, from a private security background.

Expect Declan to recall the words from an old football coach, that have stuck with him: ‘People are doing the best they can, with the skills they have.’ But he argues that security departments are not getting the best candidates, and are strugling to keep and train them; there ought to be a structured path towards the role of CSO (chief security officer), just as security officers on the ground ought to understand why they are there, so as to better themselves. Not investing in your people means disengaged staff, he warns; and increased turnover, and sick leave; and yet the human element is the weakest link in the security chain, a problem whether security is done in-house or by contractor.

ST17 Glasgow can also expect Declan to draw on scholarly research into the sector such as; why do people leave, or indeed stay? These issues matter to Declan because the cultural heritage sector wants to hire people who want to be there, to develop, and not there only until something better comes along. Hence his idea that security officers should not only be offered training courses, but consulted, as the people who actually do the job, on developing security procedures. To combat risks, we need to invest in people, he argues.

Picture by Mark Rowe; bookshelves, Trinity College Dublin.


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