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Good governance should be “differentiator and business enabler” for security integrators

Businesses are at risk of falling behind if they fail to see the advantages of good governance and the benefits it can bring. That’s according to Evolution, the integrated fire and security systems business.

Brendan McGarrity, head of risk and design at Evolution, argues that ‘box-ticking’ to meet a legal, regulatory or compliance obligation should not be the strategy to adopt and implement.

McGarrity informed Security Matters: “I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of ‘ticking a box’ either because we don’t understand or believe in something, but simply need to get it off our desk. I’m sure, also, that there are some of those with a security remit who do much the same when it comes to governance in relation to risk. There are clear advantages and true benefits to be realised from good governance.”

As an example, McGarrity quoted a Quality Manual. “To some, it’s a manual that, once completed, can sit on a dusty shelf or be lost in a drawer, never to see daylight again unless and until a quality inspection’s due. Then there are others who see it differently. They would view a Quality Manual as a proactive tool for instigating continual improvements to a business and its operations.”

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Readily embracing quality

McGarrity notes certain sectors, such as the pharmaceutical or high-tech electronics industries, embrace quality readily, and realise the benefits such an approach can bring, but others are less willing until an event obliges them to see and think differently.

He also pinpoints the Surveillance Camera Commissioner as an interesting case and highlights the example of a major retailer who sought accreditation with the Commissioner, not because they had to, but because they realised the benefits from doing so.

“The business was not obliged to have Surveillance Camera Commissioner accreditation. It did not need to tick a box. It did so to demonstrate genuine leadership and strategic influence across the sector. The senior stakeholders were engaged and found to be suitably impressed, and their brand and reputation enhanced among stakeholders and customers alike. They also realised the commercial and operational benefits that Surveillance Camera Commissioner compliance could bring. Benefits that far outweighed the costs involved, not least an increase in public confidence in the way the systems were operated and managed.”

Compliance as business enabler

McGarrity added: “Though such compliance wasn’t essential to the business concerned, the organisation saw it as a business enabler and one that affords the company competitive advantage.”

For McGarrity, that’s the key point. “Good governance should be a differentiator,” he concluded. “High-end integrators see it as an opportunity to put distance between themselves and the volume-based installers who are perhaps not as focused on building long-term relationships. That said, good governance only becomes a differentiator if the true benefits are properly understood and realised.”

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Home Office grants £14 million funding for security at Jewish institutions

The Home Office has granted the Community Security Trust (CST) funding to the tune of £14 million for security measures designed to help keep members of the Jewish community safe in their daily lives. The grant will cover protective security for the next financial year at Jewish institutions such as schools and synagogues.

A charity that monitors and helps to protect against anti-semitism, CST recorded 1,805 anti-semitic incidents in the UK in 2019. This figure represents a 7% increase on the previous year.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Anti-semitic incidents are not just an attack on the Jewish community, but on everyone who believes in a free and open society. This funding will help Jewish people practise their religion and way of life without fear of attack or persecution.”

Baroness Williams, the Minister for Countering Extremism, added: “No-one should feel afraid for practising their religion. We are committed to ensuring our places of worship remain safe spaces for worship, contemplation and reflection. Only by working together can we ensure that hateful behaviour like anti-semitism are eliminated from our society.”

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The grant was introduced in 2015 following a series of terror attacks against Jewish targets across Europe. It has been renewed yearly following security assessments by the Home Office.

The CST’s CEO David Delew explained: “The British Jewish community is deeply grateful for the renewal of Home Office funding for the provision of security officers at Jewish schools and other communal premises facing the continuing threat of terrorism. The CST will continue managing this grant, which alleviates a serious financial security burden from Jewish communities across the country.”

Most of the funding will go towards protective measures for Jewish schools. While the funding period commences on Wednesday 1 April, all synagogues remain closed while schools only remain open for the children of those conducting essential work as part of Government efforts to tackle COVID-19.

In addition to the protective security grant, the Home Office also runs the Places of Worship Scheme, which provides funding to improve physical security for non-Jewish places of worship.

Importantly, the Home Office has recently launched a consultation to see what more can be done by the Government to improve security for faith groups.

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Christopher Place Shopping Centre places trust in combined security and cleaning service provider Axis Group

Christopher Place Shopping Centre in the heart of St Albans in Hertfordshire is taking a new approach to security and cleaning by integrating these services and awarding the total contract to Axis Group. The new approach aims to simplify the management of the two services and, by working with the right provider, add a more meaningful layer of support for the key people delivering the important services on site.

In her role as Christopher Place Shopping Centre manager, Catherine Morris is determined to derive the best output from her service partners. As such, it’s hugely important that her management team and the those working on the front line always feel supported.

“Previously, we had two providers,” explained Morris, “which kept cleaning and security separate. When both were under-performing, I took this as an opportunity to see what else was out there and how we could take advantage of having one partner.”

Axis Security and Axis Cleaning and Support Services have been awarded the combined contract to look after the security and cleaning services at the location which is managed by building consultancy and property management company Workman.

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Professionalism and knowledge

Axis already enjoyed an established reputation among other Workman centre managers:  Morris said: “I was listening to their feedback and included Axis on the invitation to tender. They have demonstrated their professionalism and knowledge from the very beginning, and I’ve been impressed with their attention to detail. I have a small team so the additional support that the security and cleaning staff receive from Axis is crucial. The Group takes my requests seriously and take the management of my staff seriously as well.”

Morris described the handover process and employee TUPE as having been a very straightforward process. “It went so smoothly you wouldn’t know it was happening. Axis’ operations teams gave the employees the utmost support during the transfer process. Not only did all the staff receive a pay increase, but they are also now benefiting from an attractive package of additional benefits from Axis.”

Jonathan Levine, Axis Group CEO, asserted that the Group has extensive experience of delivering combined services to the leisure sector and is ideally placed to support Christopher Place Shopping Centre. “Our management and operations teams understand this type of environment and the high standards that need to be delivered to support the management team and the important front line staff. We are delighted to be working with Catherine and her teams at Christopher Place, and look forward to delivering a high level of customer service in all areas.”

Support from additional staff

Axis is going to be supporting Christopher Place Shopping Centre with additional staff to help out during busy periods, and especially so in the lead-up to Christmas which brings with it a schedule of events. Going forward, Axis will also be able to provide the employees with additional training when required.

Christopher Place Shopping Centre is an open pedestrian mall offering shops and restaurants to St Albans’ residents and visitors. It operates on a significantly large site spanning 169,000 square foot. The cleaning and security teams are responsible for the entire site including the mall itself, the loading bays, service corridors, lift lobbies, the car park and shops located along the site’s periphery.

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Ten-plus NSI-approved companies shortlisted for 2020 OSPAs

The National Security Inspectorate (NSI), a sponsor of the 2020 UK Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPAs), has congratulated the 13 NSI-approved companies shortlisted by the Judging Panel for their achievements within the security industry. The OSPAs are part of a global awards scheme currently running in eight countries and designed to recognise and reward outstanding performance.

In total, the 13 NSI-approved companies have over 50 shortlisted nominations across multiple categories including Outstanding Contract Security Company, Outstanding Security Installer/Integrator and Outstanding Security Officer.

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The judging is a rigorous and transparent process designed to recognise exceptional company and individual performance in the private security sector.

This year, the NSI’s involvement has extended to the OSPAs Thought Leadership Summit. This takes place on the afternoon of the Awards Ceremony on Wednesday 26 February in central London. It’s a further opportunity to hear the thoughts of high-profile speakers and debate key challenges in the private security sector, such as supply chain integrity and ways in which to address the rate of improvement in false alarms.

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Richard Jenkins: CEO at the NSI

Richard Jenkins, CEO at the NSI, commented: “The UK OSPAs highlight Best Practice and recognise the achievements of companies and individuals alike within the private security industry. We’re delighted to see so many NSI-approved companies recognised for their outstanding performance and in so many categories. Our congratulations go to all of the finalists whose achievements have been recognised this year. We wish them every success tomorrow. The NSI’s sponsorship of events and awards reinforces our commitment to recognising outstanding performance and raising standards across the security business sector.”

*Only limited places are now available for the Thought Leadership Summit which begins at 11.15 am. Places can be booked for only £45 +VAT including luncheon, entrance to the conference and exhibition and all refreshments. Visit https://uk.theospas.com/summit2020/

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“Cyber attack fears delaying business innovation” reveals HackerOne survey

A survey conducted by HackerOne has revealed that IT projects are being stifled due to security concerns. More than 80% of UK CISOs and CTOs who were interviewed revealed software IT projects have been hindered due to concerns over inevitable security issues. 90% also agreed that software vulnerabilities pose a significant risk to their organisation.

“Organisations need to find a balance between driving innovation and keeping data safe,” said Laurie Mercer, security engineer at HackerOne. “It’s not surprising that fear around cyber security is hindering this, but by moving beyond traditional cyber security strategies, businesses can start to feel empowered. When I started writing code, new releases of software would take six months to develop and test. Today, new software is released every hour. This new pace of innovation poses a problem for security teams but, by implementing a strategy that supports continuous security, businesses can ensure they’re on alert for any vulnerabilities that software might have. The key is to ensure that security is constantly evolving.”

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Manpower and budgets are also a key concern for security professionals, with 63% believing security team resources are not able to keep up with the pace of development. Lack of budget and other resources including skill sets were also cited as key barriers to creating a well-rounded cyber security strategy by over a third of respondents.

Despite the significant number of concerns around vulnerabilities and limited resources, the survey highlighted that 62% would rather accept the risk of software vulnerabilities than invite unknown hackers to find them, while 63% say they’re only comfortable accepting bug submissions from vetted hackers.

A HackerOne customer and CISO of an international health and beauty retailer said: “I understand first-hand the nature of remaining cautious. As we all know, though, traditional cyber security methods alone are not sufficient. CISOs find themselves in a tricky position, needing to embrace innovation, but while ultimately remaining responsible for cyber security. The security landscape is ever evolving so we need to approach defensive strategies in the same way. By working with ethical hackers, it gives organisations the freedom to work on new projects, spin-up new applications and try different ways of working, while at the same time there’s peace of mind that continuous and ongoing testing is taking place. With ethical hacking, these vulnerabilities can be fixed immediately.”

The research was conducted by Opinion Matters and included input from 200 UK CISOs and CTOs. The findings revealed what CISOs believe to be the biggest risks to businesses, which areas are hindering growth and what kind of technology respondents are likely to implement in order to overcome these challenges.

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Amthal fires up 20th Anniversary celebrations by launching specialist logo

Amthal Fire & Security is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with the launch of a new logo, dedicated to showcasing the company’s fast-growing and evolutionary journey towards becoming a fire and security specialist.

Launched in 2000 by close friends John Allam and Paul Rosenthal, Amthal Fire & Security now has over 60 members in the team and operates on a nationwide basis providing design, installation, maintenance and monitoring services across the commercial, public and residential sectors.

Amthal Fire & Security is dedicated to satisfying end user needs for security and safety by offering design, installation, service and remote monitoring of advanced electronic fire and security solutions, including intruder, fire, access and CCTV systems.

In 2008, Jamie Allam joined the management team to become commercial director and created the structure to drive an ambitious growth plan, incorporating all aspects of the business from operations through to sales and on to commercial targets.

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Since last year, a dedicated senior management team has been created to manage day-to-day operations, including team members from across the business, some of whom began their Amthal journey as apprentices.

Jamie Allam commented: “Since we opened our doors in 2000, the economy and the challenges our clients face have evolved dramatically and our business has always taken a proactive approach. We’ve continued on our dynamic journey, transforming the way in which we work to operate as a total solutions provider for clients in order to deliver full fire and security services.”

Allam continued: “We’re very excited to reach our 20th Anniversary and wanted a special way to celebrate our year, which reflected our mission, vision and values, both to our incredible team and our customers. The logo was created by providing keywords we associate with Amthal, such as ‘Strength’, ‘Diversity’, ‘Understanding’ and ‘Trustworthy’ alongside recognising our commitment to smart solutions and the latest technology.”

The logo will now be appearing across all social media channels and marketing material, and marks the start of the celebrations through the year, culminating in a special event on Amthal’s actual birthday, which is 14 November 2020.

Amthal Fire & Security is accredited by the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service and British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE).

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BSIA appoints Pauline Norstrom as Honorary Member of Trade Association

Pauline Norstrom has been appointed by the Board of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) as an Honorary Member of the Trade Association. Norstrom’s involvement with the BSIA stretches back over 20 years, with the dedicated security professional having served as chair of the Association from 2014-2016 as well as serving for six years as chair of the Video Surveillance Systems Section.

During her tenure as chair of the Trade Association, Norstrom championed the BSIA’s strategy, part of which was to promote the value of member services over and above price in what is a highly competitive marketplace, duly resulting in the development of the White Paper entitled ‘The (Real) Price of Security Solutions’.

As chair of the Video Surveillance Systems Section, Norstrom ensured that the BSIA was represented on the National CCTV Strategy Board and speaking for the whole industry, in turn leading to the development of BS 8495 focused on the extraction of digital evidence, the BSIA’s Privacy Masking Guide, the Chip and PIN Guide and the Code of Practice for the Design, Installation and Maintenance of Video Surveillance Systems.

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Pauline Norstrom

Norstrom was also a key driver behind the development of the leading research project entitled ‘The Picture Is Not Clear: How Many CCTV Surveillance Cameras in the UK?’, the most extensive study of the number of CCTV cameras in the UK in the last 20 years. This particular project positioned the BSIA in the mainstream media in the UK and globally.

In 2016, Norstrom founded Anekanta Ltd, which from 2019 has provided expertise for converging new and legacy technology, examining ethical considerations and the potential impact of the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Prior to this, Norstrom headed up the global marketing function of Dedicated Micros, followed by senior Board and leadership roles in related UK and US technology businesses.

Norstrom is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, a member of the IoT Security Foundation and the Security Industry Association’s Cyber Security Advisory Board and also a member of British Mensa.

Norstrom is a regular public speaker and writer providing thought leadership and ideas to the industry and its stakeholders.

Mike Reddington, CEO at the BSIA, said: “The BSIA is delighted to appoint Pauline Norstrom as an Honorary Member of the Association. Pauline’s contribution to the industry and our Association will play an essential role in clarifying the industry’s position on facial recognition, and will go some way towards helping to explain the benefits of this technology, recommending ethical uses and building the trust of the public. We can then move forward the next iteration of research on CCTV cameras.”

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