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UK covid-19 response

It is to our detriment as an industry that security staff remain the least recognised of covid-19 essential workers, writes Wilson Chowdhry, the MD of London-based guarding contractor AA Security. He writes:

Many food retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose to name but a few were dependent on good security teams who ensured they could remain open. Officers were deployed to keep the peace during extremely long queues during pandemic shortages, controlled ingress and egress preventing access to those without face masks and often directed people to hand-sanitiser locations – in addition to normal loss prevention duties.

Many essential roadworks which kept our transport routes accessible were protected by security teams. Numerous Hospitals, schools and a variety of other establishments could not operate without their security teams where controlled entrance was vital. Although our industry clients have all no doubt been inspired by our work, little recognition elsewhere has meant our contribution to the UK’s covid-19 response has overall been ignored.

Despite what you might think, the attached image is not a photoshopped image of an AA Security officer before an apocalypse. The image was taken at sunrise on Sunday, January 24, during one of the coldest days of this year. If you look carefully, you can still see the frost on the site, vehicles and equipment, only an hour or so before heavy snowfall covered everything.

The image illustrates the fortitude of the many security officers in our industry who brave all weathers to ensure that our clients are protected. In an emergency often it will be security staff that take a lead role in evacuation, setting up cordons and other methods of protecting stakeholders. Licensed security officers who work largely unsupervised over many hours have kept our country running during it’s darkest hours. Their willingness to travel to site using high-risk public transport despite the threat to their own families is a testament to their courage and dedication.

The officer in the image had been patrolling necessary roadworks all night, despite temperatures as low as minus 3 degrees C. He and others in our industry work the toughest hours when most of the population is asleep. Supervisors and control centre teams are the only people that break the monotony of a very isolated role. Their contribution as necessary and professional as their on site representatives.

Despite the risk associated with our work and the service it provides to others, we receive none of the discounts or queue-jumping rights. It’s a thankless service we provide but nevertheless one that was invaluable.

It’s time we praised our own contribution to the UK covid-19 response if no-one else will.


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