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More than meets the eye

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mike Bluestone of Corps Security explains why a comprehensive risk and threat analysis is the only way to ensure that the most appropriate security strategy is implemented.

The commoditisation of security services has had far reaching implications for the safety of people and property, and the preoccupation with lowest cost is increasingly proving to be a false economy. At a time when their security strategies should be watertight, many businesses simply do not have adequate measures in place to counter risks or threats.

The problem often originates from the initial tender process, when all those invited to pitch are asked to attend a site survey at a specific time and subsequently make their recommendations. This process often takes no more than half an hour, with little or no opportunity to ask the right type of in-depth questions that will lead to a comprehensive understanding of what’s required. Even if there was, the fact that all the various competitors are in each other’s company means that raising an issue could result in the loss of a valuable competitive edge.

Incredibly, decisions are made and contracts won or lost on this process alone. While it may be sufficient for a service provider to get a ‘foot in the door’, the service they provide will usually fail to meet the company’s specific requirements, leaving it exposed to risk and potentially out of pocket, as the loss of business continuity can be enormous.

Tenders are often carried out on an ‘as is’ basis because clients are concerned that the cost of implementing measures that are different than those already in place will cost them more. While this can be the case, it is equally possible that it could cost less, as a more streamlined service will be more efficient while also reducing the possibility of attack.

 

Rather than having a ‘bodies on the ground mentality’ a security solution should be based on a comprehensive risk and threat assessment, and if this can’t be carried out initially it should be conducted as soon as the contract is won. This involves an analysis of an organisation’s activities, premises and facilities, and will address the risk posed to staff, visitors and customers.

Some business sectors are more at risk than others and those operating in, for example, the defence, pharmaceutical and banking industries must be particularly vigilant due to threat posed from anti-war protesters, anti-capitalists, religious extremists and anti-vivisectionists. Organisations that are located near to any of these types of companies, transport hubs, or major utilities such as power stations, could also be at risk.

Empty buildings should also be kept secure as they can be targets for vandalism. Preventative security is the only way to maintain a deterrent effect that will reduce the likelihood of criminal damage. Failure to take this issue seriously can result in what is known as the ‘broken windows syndrome’. This idea suggests that small-scale damage and disorder attracts greater levels of vandalism which, unless addressed immediately, leads to on-going problems that can be difficult to eradicate.

It is crucial to carry out a thorough investigation and probe any potential issues. Clients might be reticent to admit any potential weaknesses but encouraging them to share information will allow a security provider to configure a solution that provides the requisite level of protection by identifying risks and threats that are not at first apparent. They may also be subject to a completely different set of threats at night than they are during the day and for this reason separate audits should be performed for each time period.

Every situation is unique and a final security strategy will necessitate the integration of a range of measures including manned guarding, CCTV, access control, lighting and remote monitoring. It may also be necessary to deliver on-site training to enhance an organisation’s existing security measures. This will help personnel identify and respond to potential threats and give them confidence in the organisation’s ability to keep them safe.

When it comes to manned guarding, companies that specialise in protecting certain types of environments will possess unique knowledge of the threats posed to that kind of establishment. For example, a security officer working in a Distribution Centre environment would need to have a thorough and detailed understanding of the threats from ‘shrinkage’, ‘grazing’, and pilfering.

Even those that have a proactive approach to security sometimes fail to recognise that threats evolve over time. A thorough risk assessment carried out five years ago may well be woefully inadequate now and a regular audit will ensure that the correct measures are always in place to maintain a building’s integrity.

There clearly needs to be a root and branch rethink about the way that security services are presented and procured – something that will benefit all those in the sector and enhance its levels of professionalism. When it comes to choosing which company to work with, those that provide a consultative approach to what they do will ultimately deliver best value.

For further information please contact Corps Security on 0800 0286 303 or E:  info@corpssecurity.co.uk