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Home > Reviews > Security and Risk Management: volume 1

Security and Risk Management: volume 1

Author Edited by Matthieu Petrigh

ISBN No 9780995627000

Review date 16/06/2019

No of pages 340

Publisher Centre for Security Failures Studies Publishing (Matthieu Petrigh)

Publisher URL

Year of publication 10/11/2016


Security and Risk Management: Critical Reflections and International Perspectives: Volume 1 2016

Our Review


£ 19.90

While there could always be more, there’s ever more academic courses of study and publications about security management and related subjects. It’s fair to say as Matthieu Petrigh, the editor of a first volume of ‘Critical Reflections and International Perspectives’ does, that there’s a lack of books that bring together research by students, including those gaining doctorates, employe academics, and security professionals, including that term that we’ll have to get used to, ‘pracademics’ - practitioners who are academically-sound as well.

Matthieu has a first degree in security and risk management from the University of Portsmouth (pictured), where he’s working on a further, MRes (master of research) degree. He’s brought together about a dozen substantial chapters, one each from those varied groups, all with a backbone of scholarly quality. Some will be more familiar to readers of Professional Security than others - such as David Rubens, the trainer and consultant who gained a doctorate through Portsmouth covering disaster management. In his chapter he turns his perspective to ask how to create ‘high reliability organisations (HROs) within crisis management’. In the chaos of a crisis - whether a power failure across a city or 2011-style riots across England, or cyber stoppage to critical services, extreme weather, or a mix of several - it is possible he argues to copy the methods of a site or sector that has to be highly reliable, such as a nuclear power station. Even though, in a crisis, time can be short. He suggests that to become a HRO you’ve got to be honest about faults, rather than have wishful thinking, or bend to political or office-political pressure or to budgets in the name of efficiency. Put another way, focus on the objective (reliability, no matter what; and treating all problems, even the minor-seeming ones, as signs of weakness) rather than the process (for the sake of efficiency). What’s intriguing is how often David writes of a cultural, even moral and ethical, side to how you prepare for a crisis.

If we’re talking pracademic, someone who foresook academia (as a University of Leicester lecturer) for a job as a global security risk manager is Jerry Hart. You will have heard him at the Association of Security Consultants’ latest, 2016 conference, Consec (and indeed at least one previous one). He reviews Leicester’s pioneering years in the 1990s offering security management postgraduate courses, if readers remember back to the Scarman Centre days, of Prof Martin Gill and Adrian Beck. He recalls the mix then of criminology, management theory (tapping into that university’s MBA) and information technology, as ‘robust and innovative’. Why then do MBAs of the 2010s have nothing to say in their courses about security? Why this ‘absence [of security risk management] from mainstream management education’? Is it more the fault of one side, the MBA community, than the other, security management practitioners and academics (who seek budgets and an audience by expressing fears and risks)? Jerry is writing a doctorate on a multi-disciplinary approach to security risk assessment, that he terms ‘business process security analysis’. In this and other chapters the collection does a genuinely useful service by bringing some up to date work together. That it's as varied as fraud, organised crime, and (Matthieu Petrigh's own chapter) understanding security failures, is a good shop window for the whole field of security management study. Stephen Langley for instance, someone else who’s taken a master’s degree in security management at Portsmouth, covers the ‘insider threat’ and finds that organisations aren’t helping themselves and others by not agreeing on a common definition of who the insider is, and not being open (understandably) about frauds and other losses to trusted insiders.

I can only apologise to those authors I haven’t named. To add a couple more, again to show the mix of academic, practitioner and pracademic, Phil Wood of Bucks New University covers resilience; and John Akerele (another one with a Portsmouth connection; a doctorate researcher) takes on door staff - a group that feel under siege when at work, and unappreciated by their employers, police and more or less everyone except fellow doormen; but what of the public’s perception of them? And has the Security Industry Authority (SIA) - set up at least partly (and this itself is arguable) to regulate doors rather than private security in general - made any difference to that perception? Despite the changes under the SIA regime - not least, because carried on the door superviser’s arm, usually, the SIA badge, and those who were badged when the SIA started in the mid-2000s must be on their fourth badge by now - Akerele suggests that ‘the general public are not cogniscant of the new changes’. That is, those working doors still have a ‘negative reputation’ with the public.

In other words, even if the SIA has done some good (and we can argue about how much, and whether it’s been value for the by now hundreds of millions of pounds it’s spent on admin), the public hasn’t twigged. In fairness, door staff are hardly alone in being looked down on, and having a reputation that has not caught up with reality; take journalists for instance (long coat, notebook and pen ever at the ready, cynical patter) and farmers (hat, straw in mouth, mumbling in country accent). Is Akerele looking through the wrong end of the telescope - rather than concluding that more awareness-raising is called for (by adverts? who’s going to pay?), does the fault, if there is any, lie with the public, for not paying attention? And in fairness, should the public be expected to have views on any number of occupations? Haven’t we got other things to do?! Perhaps the further line of research should be the jumbled up and unreasonable ways that people get their opinions about door staff, the police or any occupational group (off the telly? in the local paper? experience of friends and family?).

The collection, then, while not only welcome, wide-ranging and thought-provoking, is a fine advertisement for doing more research and thinking about security and risk management; in the end, it’s enormously to the credit of all the authors and editor.