Has the pandemic overhauled the security landscape?

08 Security Section

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Insightful contributions on a range of key, topical issues facing the security systems and security services sectors were shared at last month’s Thought Leadership Summit, held at the Royal Lancaster London after a two-year break following the pandemic. Organised by the Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs) in association with NSI, the annual event attracted a wide range of senior leaders from across the industry.

The 2022 conference programme reflected a variety of current themes affecting buyers of security and industry providers alike, including upcoming legislation covering protection of most public spaces – the Protect Duty proposals. These implications and opportunities were debated by three speakers: Andrew Donaldson, head of security at Real Estate Management UK Ltd; John Frost, Group head of business continuity at Marks & Spencer and chairperson of the Retail Business Continuity Association; and Stuart Toal, head of non-motor commercial insurance, Allianz UK.

The speakers’ contributions on the Protect Duty consultation reflected a wider, common thread: the value of collaborative working, regardless of commercial considerations. As one delegate put it, in a contribution ‘from the floor’: we have to work collaboratively to make the most of this once in a moment opportunity and explain to all parties how improved protection of public spaces will impact them in the future.

Those attending the Thought Leadership Summit also gained an insight into the current thinking guiding licensing body the Security Industry Authority, from CEO Michelle Russell. Michelle outlined a plan of actions including improvements to the SIA’s core licensing systems and processes, alongside a more proactive approach to compliance, inspection and enforcement.

The impact of the pandemic on the security sector was discussed by two speakers in a session addressing the topic ‘Who are the winners and losers amongst security suppliers? What the bosses say.’ Paul Evans, CEO of Carlisle Support Services and Christian Watts, MD, Fire and Security Systems at Mitie agreed that key worker status has raised the public perception and status of officers with a welcome increase in pay across the sector.

In contrast, there have been increases in violence, including serious assaults, along with a significant rise in abuse towards guards, and Paul argued for a “meaningful employee value proposition” to attract candidates and counter labour shortages.

Christian added that other “headwinds and challenges” include rising crime statistics, increases in the cost of living, supply chain disruption, tightening compliance, changing workplaces and technology evolution.

Richard Jenkins, NSI’s chief executive, provided Thought Leadership Summit delegates with an overview of the positive ways in which third party certification raises standards, reduces risks and independently demonstrates key competencies across the sector. He said: “Following NSI’s inaugural involvement with this prestigious event in 2020, the environment in which companies operate has changed and the 2022 Thought Leadership Summit provided challenging first-hand perspectives from practitioners on the key issues driving the direction of travel in both security systems and security guarding services deployment and operations.”

Professor Martin Gill, founder and director, Thought Leadership Summit commented: “Thought Leadership Summits are designed to inspire new thinking, provide a critique of what is happening and generate insights on where security should be heading, it once again achieved that. The presentations and debates remind us of the passion for those who work in security to want to improve it.”

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