SGS Security Excellence & Projects Director Rob Whiffing has worked with some of the leading security service providers and has been working with SGS to provide oversight and support for a compliance and operations. We talked to him about his views of security excellence.
What are the key areas which determine the quality of a security operation?
Often, customers buy security based on a visible need, perhaps a recent incident or insurance process. There is nothing wrong with this as a driver for reviewing security as often a well-placed security officer can provide a great service, acting as the first point of contact and access control for a site. But I think more can be done. When a holistic security solution is designed, it takes into consideration factors such as the technology available to support the manned guarding, the need for a visible deterrent. We also need to consider the skills required to mitigate the specific risk.
What questions should you be asking to review your operation effectively?
Many sites use a form of Castle and Keep protection for our properties. Some will use fencing to protect the perimeter, or keep, whilst others will use more decorative landscaping, coupled with CCTV coverage. Both options have merit, depending upon the facility but this is the starting point for your review. Once comfortable that the perimeter is covered, how about the main building? When choosing a security solution, it is important to detail the known or perceived risks to the site. It is also important to consider the unexpected risks such as information in servers or valuables held on site.
Once the physical aspects are under control, we need to look at how security officers can maintain the integrity of the site whilst not impeding the work of the business. Security would ideally be a visible presence at the point of entry, whether a gatehouse or reception. working in conjunction with a reception team and present at peak times or during an incident. This allows for internal and external patrols. These are not just about closing windows and doors but acting as the eyes and ears of the facilities team, identifying hazards or maintenance issues and acting as a reassuring visible presence for the staff and a deterrent to others. The security team need to be part of the Company “family” and be an active part of the business continuity programme.
Lastly, if your security appear to be always in the same place, bored, or just waiting for the next activity it is time to break the monotony and introduce random activities that encourage the officers to investigate, review, feedback and be part of the wider business. This is also where technology that supports the physical presence comes to its own.
What are the main technology tools that can make a real difference?
The first thing to consider is CCTV covering the perimeter, main access points and high-risk areas. Cameras are now available that use analytics to identify suspicious activity, which can be fed to an officer on patrol using a smart phone so they can react to situations promptly. This takes away the need for banks of monitors in a security office. Automatic Number Plate Recognition on the entrance, can restrict access for unauthorised vehicles. It can also act as a welcome point for visitors with a message board directing them to parking place.
The other piece of technology that I would suggest are access control systems. These can alert security officers to doors held open or fire exits activated. If you find the use of paper visitors badges old fashioned, new HID access control cards are available that will take a photo of the visitor, detail the hosts name and provide basic access to the general areas on a temporary and rewritable access card. The visitor books in with reception or the virtual book in tablet. The card is produced behind reception and the host notified, who attends, collects the card and gives it to the visitor and access is granted. This also reduces paper usage.
A mobile and agile security team can use smart phones to react to access control and CCTV when they are out on site. If a report can be done on paper, it can also be captured on a smart phone, whether it is to log searches, vehicle safety checks, alarm activations or track server room temperatures. The data captured can form part of the daily activity log for the business and provided to the facilities management team online.
Which training courses and qualification are important to consider?
Training is dependent upon the site and activity. Security is often the first point of contact with a business. After the appropriate licence training for the role, I believe that customer service and report writing are the key skills that the team require to provide the best impression of your company. Additional training can be taken online to add skills in health & safety, data protection and manual handling. Once you have decided how you want security to be a part of the company family, skills-based training in first aid or first response and fire marshalling would be the logical step.
What does a good security service look like in your opinion?
A good security service exists when the security team are valued as an integral part of the business. This starts with paying the team more than Living Wage, reviewing the rostering practices to ensure that there is an opportunity for a work life balance. Training the team to perform the tasks and then appreciating it when they enforce the company policies and protect the business. A well thought out list of tasks, duties and activities which keep the team busy and alert, in conjunction with effective use of technology will create a formidable security solution. Trained and appreciated teams perform better and are proactive in support of your business.
Thank You Rob for a most illuminating discussion. Get in touch with SGS to learn more about our services and how we can become an effective, proactive security partner for your business.