On Tuesday 18 November at The Churchill War Rooms in central London, The Security Institute launched ‘A Manifesto for Professional Security’. The Keynote Speech was delivered by Emma Shaw CSyP, the Institute’s chairman, who duly outlined the organisation’s vision for making professional security more effective: a profession that’s recognised and respected for the immense value it delivers to society, to organisations in both the public and private sector and, indeed, individual members of the public.
Everything The Security Institute has done over the first 15 years of its existence has been building up to this point. We would like to think that our new document entitled: ‘Recognised, Respected and Professional: A Manifesto for Professional Security’ carries on the tradition of The Security Institute’s founding members. Back in 1999, those founding members were willing to seek change and courageous enough to do their utmost in a bold bid to realise that change.
This is the point at which I feel our professional body comes of age. The point at which we are mature enough to profess that we can only achieve our ambitions for this profession not by pursuing our own agenda or through acting as a member association with a narrow focus on member interests but instead by recognising that the first duty of a professional body is to serve the profession itself and all of its many and varied stakeholders.
We understand that, across the sector, there are valuable relationships currently being used for narrow benefit that could be developed to serve the greater good.
First and foremost, this new Manifesto is about collaboration. It sets out a vision and a series of initiatives that encourage working together to achieve key outcomes. In working to bring about those defined outcomes, all organisations within the sector would maintain full autonomy and retain their own individual identity and traditions while at the same time striving to achieve for the good of all.
A Manifesto for Professional Security: The Background
Undoubtedly, these are times of immense and rapid change for the security profession and all of its practitioners. The nature of the security threat is changing. Accessible information technologies, global networks, diversification of threats and disruptive technologies will all create risks for the public, for society and for businesses in equal measure. These complex threats require complex solutions and, in turn, this will demand far greater collaboration and co-operation from – and between – those responsible for the security of assets as well as the host organisations representing them.
We also need to remember that it’s not only security professionals who are our stakeholders. Ultimately, the end user of all our services is the general public and The Security Institute feels that not enough has been done to include that public in our thinking as a profession.
There’s a need for greater understanding of what the public perceives as threats, which tend towards the local and short term rather than the international and longer term focus of the Government’s National Security Strategy. Through its professional bodies, the security profession must strive to build bridges with the public it seeks to protect. It is the members of the public who are our primary stakeholders.
Following on from this, security also must engage more actively with its user stakeholders in a bid to demystify its practices and make its own case for wider recognition as a force for good in society. On an individual level, security must strive to promote a clear understanding and appreciation of the things the security profession does on a daily basis to maintain stakeholder well-being.
At a time when security is becoming ever more ubiquitous and might be perceived by some as overbearing, we absolutely cannot afford to let the public lose faith in the professionals who work tirelessly to manage and mitigate the risks it faces and, in so doing, keep members of the public safe.
In the pursuit of greater degrees of security, it must be said that a fine line exists between protecting members of the public and infringing their civil liberties. Here, the security profession has the opportunity to be a reassuring and independent presence between the public and the legislature. We can offer a reliable information channel.
Taking this argument a stage further, the security profession has to encourage an ongoing debate around the moral basis of security. It’s also fair to say that ethical challenges will frequently arise as technology empowers the profession to gather, analyse and use data about citizens.
The security profession must evolve
The Institute feels strongly that the security profession must evolve in line with the changing nature of risks and equip practitioners to cope with those risks in order to enable them to meet the challenges facing society at large. Technology is one of the key drivers of change, and the security profession – and its cohort – needs to demonstrate the technical and intellectual skills that enable effective working within this environment.
New tools can help transform the sector. For example, big data analytics might be made into working tools, enabling complex data to be turned into smart data and allowing data analysis on a massive scale that quickly provides deeper insights while creating new types of services for host organisations.
We should also consider the make-up of the security profession. Security is still widely viewed as a second career for those coming out of the military or the police service. We need to encourage young people to enter the security world as a first-choice profession after leaving school or university.
Greater and closer co-operation between stakeholder organisations is essential if we are all to fulfil our individual organisational obligations to the profession.
What, then, are the reasons why things we would all agree need to be done are not being done? First, it’s apparent to many of us that ‘Security’ simply doesn’t speak the language of business or the public effectively and so doesn’t participate in the conversations that frequently set the agenda.
Second, one of the strengths of the security sector is the engagement of its members and the vibrant groups, associations and institutes they establish – but this is also its weakness. The security sector is fragmented and lacking in clear leadership.
We also believe that the nature of the relationship between the profession and the public should change. ‘Security’ needs to develop a relationship with the public whereby the users are the ones demanding the services rather than having services they haven’t asked for imposed upon them.
Returning once more to the key theme of collaboration and co-operation, The Security Institute feels there’s an overriding need for a true and sustaining partnership between the security profession, businesses and institutions and the general public.
Setting aside parochial interests
The Manifesto asks a number of things of various stakeholders within this profession and those who have influence over it. However diverse, large or small they may be, we call upon all of the professional bodies in this industry to set aside any parochial interests and join with us in working independently and in parallel for the benefit of our profession, our industry and our society.
We call on educational bodies and awarding bodies to join with the professional bodies and examine the future development of structured learning programmes designed to up-skill the security workforce.
We call upon key commercial organisations to work with the professional bodies and provide the funding and support that some of these initiatives will entail.
We call upon Parliament and its many agencies to establish an enabling, meaningful and ongoing dialogue with the profession to ensure it develops in a manner that’s entirely consistent with the needs of Government and society.
To achieve this, the Manifesto proposes a number of initiatives that we – the professional bodies and member associations in the security sector – can establish through working together.
We encourage thoughtful and dynamic collaboration between groups, businesses and individuals. We believe we should establish a Security Commonwealth wherein all organisations come together on an equal basis, retaining their full individual autonomy while working collectively on the development of common approaches to joint challenges
We propose that we should work collaboratively with all willing groups and individuals within the industry to set up a Security Information Service. This will afford the public general advice via a website – ideally sponsored by the industry and, possibly, Government – on all aspects of personal, domestic, travel and cyber security. This can be used to steer public opinion in a favourable direction.
The Security Information Service will share information on how professional security succeeds at major events, such as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, as well as on a day-to-day basis in peoples’ lives, for instance when they’re at the shops or using public transport. We will celebrate the achievements of those working for the public and support measures to address the abuse and misuse of security.
We wish to work together to improve and heighten the profile of the sector. The Security Institute encourages collaboration with universities and education providers, schools and university careers services and employers. We want to establish clear career paths that demonstrate progress from first entering the profession to roles in the top strata via specialist and generalist positions, technical and business roles.
Put simply, we need to show security to be the challenging, intellectually stimulating, exciting and public-serving discipline that it most certainly is. We can do this through the medium of a Security Careers Advisory Service.
Common position on professionalism
We want to work together on developing and sharing a common position on professionalism within our industry. Our joint aim should be the UK becoming the exemplar model that the world can copy. We can create a Working Group, entitled Security Outreach, and target this outreach to opinion formers, politicians and management organisations such as the CBI and the Institute of Directors. We can increase awareness through the Human Resources profession, the purchasing and supply function and Facilities Management, all of which are key enablers in our area.
We act together to promote The Gold Standard created by The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, that of the Chartered Security Professional. We act in unison with other industry bodies to create a common point of view and voice that we will use to approach Government with clearly thought-out suggestions designed to encourage and influence the development of a Government White Paper on the future of the security profession. Security Outreach will play a key role in this process.
To ensure that our voice is heard we propose the creation of a Joint Security Associations’ Lobbying Group that would speak on behalf of all the associations – and through them – when representing the profession and its members.
There’s full recognition that this is an ambitious manifesto and requires all stakeholders in the security sector – the associations, the trade bodies, members of the press and individual members – to come together and work effectively for the good of the security profession.
Let’s recognise that we have a great deal in common and that, first and foremost, all bodies in the sector were established to support the members of this profession. There’s much we can and will continue to offer as individual associations, but let’s be brave enough to recognise that there will be many occasions when, if we are to be truly effective, the fact is we are better together, speaking with one voice and promoting a common viewpoint with the weight of our individual organisations firmly behind us.
We recognise that our ambition for the development of the profession is beyond the ability and resources of any one group, organisation or professional association within the sector. We realise that there are many perspectives on the future of the security profession and the broader sector, and that there are informed voices outside of our organisation who can claim thought leadership.
Strong contribution to the sector
We have no wish to necessarily lead these initiatives but undertake to work tirelessly to get them off the ground and to give them our full and continuing support as a willing participant. Indeed, so determined are we to make them a reality that we’re ready to contemplate a future in which The Security Institute itself may cease to exist in its present form and would possibly be subsumed within a larger, more representative grouping that carries greater authority through its universality.
As a professional body, The Security Institute is rightly proud of its journey over the past 15 years. The organisation has made a strong contribution to the sector. However, if this Manifesto meets with an enthusiastic response from other organisations, and we’re able to use its contents in bringing greater cohesion to the profession at large, then this will be our finest achievement to date.
Winston Churchill once famously stated: “I never worry about action, but only inaction.” Together, we have an opportunity before us to start something that’s truly great. Let’s not allow that opportunity to be brought to a halt through inaction. Work with The Security Institute to make it so.