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Skills summit previewed: 2

We continue here a preview of the Security Industry Authority’s skills summit on Thursday, March 12. The SIA and the licensable sectors of UK private security – notably door security and contract guarding, besides public space CCTV monitoring and close protection (CP) – would have to decide what, if anything they want to seek in addition to the 30-hour basic officer training, considerably more in the case of CP. And if something more is required, who out of the regulator and industry has what responsibility, for lobbying for the change to the Home Office, and drawing up the detail? One potential avenue is sector-specific top-up training, writes Mark Rowe.

One of the previous chief executives of the SIA, Bill Butler, was originally an accountant. A wise saying of his was that no sensible accountant expects to make a career even having gained the necessary basic qualification to do the job. Rather, you would take an extra, specialist qualification, such as in forensic accounting, to carry on that specialism.

Likewise it may be in contract security guarding (leaving aside what training the in-house security guard should have – ever since the SIA began badging UK contract guards in the mid-2000s, in-house is not licensable, although some in-house guarding operations choose to SIA-badge their staff, such as Laurence Perkins, head of security at the University of Leicester, pictured, as interviewed in the February 2020 print issue of Professional Security magazine).

Here are some sectors which may lend themselves to specific security officer training. To varying extents, the sector-specific training is already written and on offer.

– university campuses: for suicide prevention, and welfare counselling, and mental health awareness; because security officers may well be the campus staff out of hours who are first responders to an incident, that they would then report to a university’s counsellors.

– healthcare: again, mental health awareness, and safe handling of patients, who may be suffering from dementia.

– high street patrolling: as featured in recent issues of Professional Security magazine, guard forces are being hired by local government and increasingly influential (and with considerable budgets) business improvement districts (BIDs) to patrol high streets – that is, public space, beyond the semi-public space of shopping centres. They may be badged under the national community safety accreditation scheme (CSAS) by the local police force. If so, how does CSAS map against the SIA requirements for an officer. What of radio communications with police, protocols for dealing with any complaints from the public, use of body-worn cameras, reporting incidents? While such hired officers may deny that they are like the police, for political and practical reasons – under CSAS, local police may grant those patrollers some police-like powers, or they may not – such patrollers are undeniably front-line and as likely to meet any number of scenarios – the homeless, aggressive beggars, on-street drinkers – requiring so-called soft skills – tact, the ability to engage loiterers in conversation, while fairly but firmly enforcing any local bye-laws or public space protection orders (PSPOs), such as in Salisbury city centre no drinking – as featured in the January 2020 print issue in Professional Security.

– airport and port: behavioural detection training, as in use at Gatwick Airport, as spelt out by Andrew Palmer to several industry events, such as IFSEC 2018. This training in observing what’s suspicious – and what’s more, doing something about it, by engaging the suspicious person in conversation – has parallels in the police’s Project Servator method. Like Servator, behavioural detection may equally lend itself to a campus, or shopping mall.

– stadiums and events: crowd science, how crowds flow and if not properly signposted and controlled, could become dangerously congested.

– some skills may be generally desirable, such as customer service, whether working in a Jobcentre, or a museum or art gallery.

There are precedents for skills being added to the basic officer training; such as vulnerability awareness, for door staff, to spot for the signs of someone vulnerable (such as a drunk) being at risk of assault, robbery or worse. Or; counter-terrorism awareness, as trialled by the SIA In Scotland. First aid, or first aid awareness (not the same things) are another possibility.


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