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‘On Parade’: Security Management Best Practice for Special Events

Managing security at an iconic central London venue allows absolutely no room for error. Recently, Integrated Security Consultants provided support for a lavish private event held at Horse Guards Parade. Brian Sims outlines the service delivery and what lessons were learned.

Destination and corporate event management specialist Spectra DMC approached ISC back in March regarding its plans for a gala dinner to be held at the London meeting of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). This was to be a highly prestigious and unique event on something of a grand scale, with a giant marquee erected at Horse Guards Parade and plans for no less than 1,000 covers.

Guests were to be welcomed by a choir while the troopers and horses from The Household Cavalry would form a Guard of Honour.

Crucially, although the event was private in nature, it would be taking place in a highly sensitive area, out in the open and right next to a major central London public road. The right security regime was vital in order to keep the site safe during the build-up to and during the event, but also to enhance the guest experience and ensure everything would run smoothly.

Horse Guards Parade in London

Horse Guards Parade in London

The event itself took place on 13 September, but chosen security provider Integrated Security Consultants (ISC) was on-site 24 hours a day controlling access to the site from four days prior for the build until the site was clear and returned to its ‘blank canvas’ state two days later.

“We had to work closely with the many different parties involved, all of whom had their own needs and expectations,” stated ISC’s business development manager Paul Griffiths. “These parties included not just our client, Spectra DMC, but also the Royal Parks, the Metropolitan Police Service, the various event contractors and, of course, members of the public.”

As well as managing the security of the site itself, ISC provided corporate security staff to welcome guests, manage local public interest and handle both traffic ingress and egress.

Planning and familiarisation process

“This event was 18 months in the planning,” added Griffiths, “and, naturally, both Spectra DMC and the ACTL had high expectations for the day. Every aspect of the event had to be perfect, from the catering and entertainment through to the security team. We spent six months planning and familiarising ourselves with the expectations of our client and ensuring full risk assessments were carried out. We also attended planning meetings with the Royal Parks so that we understood how the site operated and what to expect, in turn advising on security requirements.”

Griffiths continued: “The Metropolitan Police Service and Royal Parks wanted to ensure that all Health and Safety requirements were in place and that the site was secure at all times. We liaised with them and brought security cover forward by 24 hours to ensure that the very earliest stages of the build were covered.”

On the evening of the event, all access points were secured and a large crowd of onlookers had to be kept back so that all guests could be admitted during a short 30-minute window, transferring from coaches within seconds. Everything went smoothly, but there were some challenges to overcome.

Security for the event was provided by Integrated Security Consultants

Security for the event was provided by Integrated Security Consultants

“These were mostly logistical,” continued Griffiths, “such as some contractor vehicles turning up without pre-registration. Another challenge was that the site is usually easily accessible to pedestrians from Horse Guards Road. Rather than just station officers along the 160-metre perimeter, we were permitted the use of crowd barriers to provide an extra layer of defence.”

Griffiths went on to comment: “Unsurprisingly, holding such a glamorous event in a public place attracted a great deal of attention from passers-by, in particular when the Band of the Coldstream Guards arrived and played several numbers. The event also coincided with the nearby Proms in the Park, which resulted in large numbers milling around in the vicinity, but this didn’t pose any problems for our team.”

Recruitment of security personnel

ISC’s recruitment process is designed with an ultimate objective in mind: the provision of a high quality security service. The company’s clients can be satisfied that each member of the security team they receive on site has been through a comprehensive interview process which tests for competency, communication and customer service capability. The staff understand the high expectations of both their employer and its customers and have the experience of working at a wide variety of public and private events.

To complete the security package for a site on the scale of Horse Guards Parade, ISC provided a manager to fully instruct and guide the security team. The company is always mindful of the fact that security is in place to support the smooth running of an event and that event managers are, in general, exceptionally busy with other aspects of production. For this reason, ISC provided Spectra DMC with a manager to direct the security team on their behalf. Rather than worrying about positioning staff, this enabled the client to focus on its primary goal of ensuring this spectacular event exceeded all expectations within a safe and secure environment.

1,000 covers for guests were provided inside a temporary venue on the site of Horse Guards Parade

1,000 covers for guests were provided inside a temporary venue on the site of Horse Guards Parade

ISC’s success in securing this event is the result of a long history of working on other high profile events, often in spectacular venues, and a culture of listening carefully to clients’ requirements in order to build a bespoke security service.

Mark Wareing, account director at Spectra DMC, concluded: “Everyone on the ISC team was really helpful and great to work with. The security manager was totally flexible and we could just leave the team to their own devices.”

That’s what everyone involved in running and securing special events – be those occasions big or small in nature – wants to be able to say.

What to consider when hiring an event security solutions provider for your corporate events and buildings

What are the main services these companies provide?

There are a wide variety of security roles to be covered and security companies may specialise in different areas along the spectrum. Corporate and private events are very different from large-scale public events or nightclubs and require a more discreet, bespoke service that blends robust venue security with customer service.

Security staff are usually the first point of contact that guests will have with your event and their conduct will set the tone for the evening.

How do you go about sourcing a reputable company that’s right for you?

The security industry has evolved considerably over the past decade, with licensing of individuals working in a security capacity through the Security Industry Authority (SIA) having been a legal requirement for the past decade.

However, just because an individual has passed a training course and holds a licence does not necessarily mean that person is right for your event.

They might be great at patrolling empty buildings, but how will the officers interact with your guests?

Not all security companies are alike. What accreditations do they hold? The two most important to look out for are the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) ‘seal’ and the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme mark. Both are a sign that the company has high quality standards and are subjected to external audits.

The NSI’s ‘Guarding Gold’ also demonstrates conformance with the internationally-recognised ISO 9001 quality standard along with several British Standards for security services.

There are numerous key questions that end users must ask of potential security providers for special events

There are numerous key questions that end users must ask of potential security providers for special events

What are the top three questions to ask of your potential service provider at the outset?

Naturally, you will want to know what price you are paying for the security services offered. Expect to pay an hourly rate per officer for a minimum number of hours per shift.

Prices will, of course, vary from one company to the next, but as is the case with any product or service the age-old saying “you get what you pay for” is very apt here.

A high quality security company offering a high quality service will pay their staff a decent wage and, while they will not charge the earth, naturally they will not be the cheapest option for the purchasing end user.

You should establish a budget for security services early on in the planning process, allowing a little breathing room in case you require more staff or for longer periods than originally anticipated.

How early on in a project should you make sure the security service is on board?

Security staff are often viewed as a ‘need to have’ rather than ‘want to have’ item on an event checklist. However, by viewing them as an integral part of the event experience and by bringing yoursecurity partner on board early in the planning stages, they will have the right amount of time to prepare and give you the best staff they have.

Rather than trying to guess how many security staff you’ll need, talk to your service partner and allow them to conduct a site visit to scope the requirement themselves and to perform a risk assessment. Site geography, threat levels and the event profile will dictate minimum staffing numbers, but the maximum depends upon your budget and key objectives.

The role of the security specialist is to make the service end user’s planning process as stress-free as possible.

How can you evaluate the service you’re receiving?

As the client, your security partner should be asking you lots of questions leading up to the event. Each event and venue is unique and you should be receiving a bespoke service tailored to your exact specifications.

As the event planner, you will almost certainly be present on the day of your event. As with other services, it will be very apparent if you’re not receiving the standards of service you desire.

Consider paying for a security supervisor to manage the team rather than managing each security officer yourself. This will allow you to focus solely on running the event.

What should you do if you’re not happy with the security service provided?

If you’re not happy, talk to your security partner’s representative to make them aware of your dissatisfaction. They should take steps to rectify the situation either immediately or for your next event.

If they don’t do so, it may be time to seek a new partner who can better understand your operational requirements.

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BSIA members make firm commitment to Health and Safety Best Practice

The British Security Industry Association has launched a new Health and Safety Forum dedicated to providing networking and information sharing opportunities for Health and Safety professionals working in the private security industry.

Launched at Stamford Bridge – the home of Chelsea Football Club – on 19 November, the Forum aims to facilitate the sharing of information and Best Practice, in turn galvanising BSIA members’ commitment to Health and Safety into positive action while also informing them of the latest developments in relevant legislation.

The launch event was sponsored and hosted by VSG and featured brief presentations outlining the aims and objectives of the Health and Safety Forum as well as a networking opportunity and a tour of the stadium. In addition, the BSIA hosted a lively discussion on Health and Safety Excellence at which attendees were encouraged to share their own Case Studies demonstrating Best Practice or innovation in their business and thereby help stimulate debate.

Commenting on the success of the launch event, Trevor Elliott – director of manpower and membership services at the BSIA – said: “We were delighted with the turnout at the launch of our Health and Safety Forum, and extremely pleased with the level of engagement from attendees who were eager to share their own experiences and learn from each other’s examples of Best Practice.”

The BSIA has now launched its dedicated Health and Safety Forum for security companies

The BSIA has now launched its dedicated Health and Safety Forum for security companies

Engagement with the HSE and the SIA

Engagement with other industry bodies will be key to the Forum’s activity, with members planning to engage with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

Dave Humphries, director of partnerships and interventions at the SIA, explained: “The event was extremely helpful in clarifying where the key players in the private security industry are in terms of this important topic. This is directly relevant to the work I’m embarking on within the SIA which is our violence reduction strategy. I will welcome being actively engaged with this Forum as that strategy develops and is implemented. Our strategy will only be effective if it’s informed by the experts within the sector. On that basis, I’m hopeful for a positive engagement with others in the Forum.”

Speaking about the future work of the Health and Safety Forum, Interconnective’s Bobby Logue stated: “The launch of the BSIA’s Health and Safety Forum has identified the challenges ahead for Health and Safety professionals operating in member companies. The real work for the Forum begins now. We need to address the key issues including accurate data and industry Best Practice. We also need to create industry and customer awareness and develop Health and Safety Best Practice throughout the BSIA member companies.”

Those in attendance have provided positive feedback from the launch, with 100% of respondents to a post-event survey claiming that it was of value to their business. Following the event, 100% of attendees plan to become involved in the Health and Safety Forum, with the key benefit cited as being able to work together with the wider industry to influence future legislation.

Trevor Elliott: director of manpower and membership services at the BSIA

Trevor Elliott: director of manpower and membership services at the BSIA

Among the other perceived benefits is the ability for members to provide a better service to their customers and the opportunity to network with like-minded peers.

Plans are now taking shape for the inaugural meeting of the BSIA’s Health and Safety Forum which is due to take place in early 2015.

*BSIA members interested in becoming involved should register their interest by contacting Trevor Elliott via e-mail at: t.elliott@bsia.co.uk

**Non-members wishing to learn more about the wider benefits of Association membership can do so by visiting: http://www.bsia.co.uk/join-the-bsia

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Ninth consecutive year of ACS audit improvement recorded by Showsec

Event and venue security solutions specialist Showsec has achieved year-on-year improvement in the Security Industry Authority’s Approved Contractor Scheme ratings for the ninth time in succession. An extensive assessment of all aspects of the company’s operation resulted in the award of a hugely impressive audit score of 132.

Assessing body the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) commended Showsec for its performance across all elements of the business and singled out several examples of good practice. Significantly, the company was successful in undergoing assessment for CCTV and close protection in readiness for the introduction of business licensing in 2015.

Showsec aimed for Improvement Scope in the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) assessment process with the prime objective of gaining British Standard accreditation across all aspects of the company’s work.

“This excellent result highlights once again the progress made by the company year-on-year and places us in a strong position should business licensing be implemented,” enthused Showsec’s managing director Mark Harding. “One of the prime objectives of this proposed business regulation for the security industry is to ensure that everyone complies with the British Standards in whatever line of security work they undertake. We now have approval for both CCTV and close protection duties in addition to door supervision and security guarding.”

Harding continued: “The ACS provides a clear benchmark of the standards we achieve in the delivery of our product. We’re constantly striving to raise the bar even higher in terms of the services we offer to our clients and members of the public, and also in relation to being at the forefront of industry-wide progression. Everyone within the company can be extremely proud of this latest achievement. I know this result will provide further encouragement for our staff to work even harder in the pursuit of excellence and continued improvement.”

Showsec provided security management and stewarding solutions for the recent Kasabian gig at Victoria Park in Leicester

Showsec provided security management and stewarding solutions for the recent Kasabian gig at Victoria Park in Leicester

Event stewarding and crowd management

The NSI assessment was conducted by Joanne Fox who visited two venues – in Manchester and Leeds – at which Showsec operate before spending two days at Head Office in Leicester. In her report, Fox asserted: “I cannot believe the number of things the company has done in the last 12 months. It’s a great achievement.”

Among the five examples of good practice highlighted in the report are the introduction of a specific training module for SIA staff to ensure all supervisors have a clear understanding of the necessary requirements when supervising employees and casual workers, as well as the formation of Facebook accounts managed by members of the team at Head Office which enable employees and casual staff to communicate on specific events and activities.

On top of that, the NSI report also draws attention to the fact that Showsec has worked diligently alongside the UK Crowd Management Association to develop a specific qualification for event stewarding and crowd management.

Other examples of good practice include the company conducting a number of Human Resources Forums as a means towards even better communication and the identification of any pressing issues.

Showsec has also introduced e-Briefings for a number of events to provide employees and casual workers with detailed and specialist information ahead of them reporting for duty.

“These are just some of the ways in which we’ve endeavoured to improve our product over the past year,” concluded Harding, “but just as significant is the fact that there were no improvement needs identified in the report. That’s an extremely rare occurrence in this process and reflects the extent to which we’ve gone to make improvements across the board.”

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Axis Security appoints Chris Wisely to new managing director’s role

Chris Wisely has been promoted from head of operations to the newly-created role of managing director at Axis Security (part of the Axis Group of security, reception management and cleaning and support services companies). Wisely will report to Group CEO Jonathan Levine.

Wisely has worked in the security industry for more than 20 years and joined Axis Security in 2009 as finance director before progressing to the head of operations role in 2012.

In the five years he has been with the business, Wisely has worked with the senior management team in further strengthening the company’s operations, including the launch of its bespoke online portal – Axis e-Connect – giving customers easy access to live reports, documentation and information about their portfolio.

Wisely has also overseen a significant investment in employee training and played a key role in creating specialist teams to manage recruitment, training, compliance, contract mobilisation and Health and Safety.

Chris Wisely: the new managing director at Axis Security

Chris Wisely: the new managing director at Axis Security

Jonathan Levine believes the appointment comes at an exciting time for the business, and reflects how far the company has come in such a comparatively short space of time.

“Axis Security has an enviable reputation in the industry,” said Levine. “With a record Approved Contractor Scheme audit, our track record is one that’s built firmly on quality. We will continue to focus on delivering the finest services to our customers while supporting our employees to be the best they can be in their respective roles.”

As managing director, a key focus for Wisely will be redefining the company’s vision and the business strategy required to deliver that vision. “We want to be viewed as the leading provider of security services in key sectors and geographies, so it’s important that we are known more widely,” urged Wisely.

“We also want to be known as the best employer in the industry and have made great strides in developing a comprehensive training programme for our officers and management staff, in turn allowing us to develop and retain the best people at all levels.”

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Security boss sentenced for deploying unlicensed security officers at luxury development

A security boss has been sentenced for providing unlicensed security officers to a prestigious housing development in Prestbury, Cheshire.

Gary Ford (42) of Westall Court, Buxton in Derbyshire pleaded guilty on 11 November to three security offences. On 17 November, Ford was sentenced at Macclesfield Magistrates Court to a 12-month community order and a requirement that he completes 300 hours of unpaid work.

Macclesfield Magistrates Court awarded the Security Industry Authority (SIA) £10,000 in costs to be paid in instalments of £100 per week.

In May 2013, SIA investigators visited the site of two discreet luxury houses in Prestbury, where Ford’s company (4D Security) provided private security. SIA investigators found an unlicensed security officer on site who had been deployed by Ford.

SIA investigators again visited the site on 24 November 2013 and found a different unlicensed security officer working on the premises. The man was not licensed to conduct security guarding activities, although he did hold an SIA CCTV licence.

By law, security operatives working under contract and all door supervisors must hold and display a valid SIA licence card

By law, security operatives working under contract and all door supervisors must hold and display a valid SIA licence card

Following the visits to Prestbury, the SIA made requests to 4D Security for information under Section 19 of the Private Security Industry Act 2001. Ford failed to respond.

Nathan Salmon, investigations manager at the Regulator, stated: “This is a positive result for the SIA, demonstrating that both unlicensed and incorrectly licensed security operatives cannot be ‘hidden’ at smaller, discreet security sites. Mr Ford’s business model paid scant regard to security regulations. The SIA twice found his operatives unlicensed in the role being undertaken.”

Salmon added: “The owners of the houses in Prestbury paid Ford to provide private security. They should have been safe in the knowledge that the individuals guarding their property were trained, qualified and held the appropriate SIA licences. Macclesfield Magistrates Court considered the expense in bringing this prosecution, which is borne by correctly licensed operatives, and this has been reflected in the costs awarded to the SIA.”

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SSAIB recruits manned services assessors ahead of business licensing

Inspection company the SSAIB – which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary as a fire, security and telecare certification body – has recruited two new manned services assessors to join the team headed by scheme manager Stephen Grieve.

The duo’s appointments come in the context of future regulation through mandatory business licensing – the most significant factor affecting the security industry since the SIA (Security Industry Authority) introduced individual licensing under the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

Andrew Osbourne

Andrew Osbourne

Andrew Osborne joins the SSAIB to cover the south of England. He brings with him an extensive and wide-ranging 40-year track record of business experience including security screening and training, Health and Safety management and risk assessments with companies such as G4S (with whom, for example, he conducted site and remote audits on static guarding, maritime, aviation, rail and events operations including employee screening, training and licensing).

Osbourne’s appointment to the team is mirrored by David Taylor’s recruitment to cover the Midlands and the north of England. Taylor has a similarly impressive industry CV dating back over 20 years and including roles as an operations, training and quality and security manager for Sigma Security. He also served as a project manager for Wilson James covering British Airways’ Heathrow headquarters, as well as being manager of security and safety services for both the Portman and Coventry Building Societies.

David Taylor

David Taylor

“Bringing on board professionals of Andrew and David’s calibre is a significant step for SSAIB as we invest in our regional manned services assessment capability in the run-up to the anticipated 2015 introduction of business licensing,” commented Stephen Grieve, “with all of the important implications involved in that process. This move also demonstrates the SSAIB’s credentials within the market as we operate for the benefit of licensing and certification customers around the UK and Ireland.”

Founded in 1994 and based in Tyne & Wear, the SSAIB also offers a range of management systems certification schemes, including ISO 9001 quality management systems certification and ISO 14001 environmental management systems certification.

Over 1,500 companies are now included on the SSAIB’s register.

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New Security Industry Authority-linked qualifications to be launched in January 2015

A new suite of qualifications for learners hoping to become licensed security operatives is to be launched in January 2015, with the Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance assisting in their development.

The introduction of the new qualifications comes after one of the largest ever reviews into learning in the sector was launched earlier this year, when the Security Industry Authority (SIA) announced an evaluation of its specifications for learning and qualifications.

The review affects security licence-linked units, and will result in qualifications containing these units being withdrawn and replaced. Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC) has been asked by the SIA to assist in the development work alongside other SIA-endorsed awarding bodies in order to create new units that will make up the qualifications.

New security qualifications are due to be launched on 1 January 2015

New security qualifications are due to be launched on 1 January 2015

The change will impact learners, personnel, security companies and facilities management organisations providing security services.

Existing qualifications will be withdrawn on 31 December 2014 to be replaced by the revised qualifications with immediate effect from 1 January 2015.

Meeting the needs of learners and employers

Jason Sprenger, HABC’s CEO, said: “This is perhaps the largest review the SIA has conducted into training since it took responsibility for the sector, and will result in the development of completely new suites of qualifications that better meet the needs of learners and employers. We actively encouraged all of our Approved Centres offering security courses to take part in the public consultation to ensure that the sector had a voice in the review, and that the resulting qualifications will be valued by security professionals.”

Jason Sprenger: CEO at HABC

Jason Sprenger: CEO at HABC

A number of new learning materials to support the units are also planned for launch in January 2015, including the ‘Working as a Door Supervisor’, ‘Working as a Security Officer’ and ‘Working as a CCTV Operator’ books and training presentations. The former have been written by Andy Walker and, in the case of the surveillance-focused document, Gordon Tyerman, both of whom are recognised experts in the security arena.

HABC is one of the UK’s leading Awarding Organisations for vocational qualifications

HABC is one of the UK’s leading Awarding Organisations for vocational qualifications

*Further information on the planned changes is available by calling 0845 226 0350. Alternatively, send an e-mail to: info@highfieldabc.com

**For regular updates, visit: https://twitter.com/HighfieldABC and: http://www.facebook.com/HighfieldABC

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