John Briggs, Operations Director of First Security writes his first of a new series of blogs exclusively for Infologue.com.
Here, John looks at the future of the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) and asks what’s in store during this transition period as policing levels come under increased scrutiny.
Figures revealed by the Observer (10 March 2012), obtained by the shadow home office using freedom of information requests to all 43 police constabularies in England and Wales, have shown that “the jobs of several thousand frontline officers have been lost as forces undertake the task of imposing the 20% of cost savings that have to be made by 2014-15.”
Setting aside any political motivations behind the release of such information, which has naturally raised public concern, for those of us in the manned security industry, it serves to reinforce the importance of maintaining close links with the police, during a period where, at best, policing levels may plateau but are certainly unlikely to increase.
CSAS is one area where experience has proven the benefits of working with local forces to reduce low level, anti-social behaviour. In our experience of working with shopping centres, footfall has shown a significant increase as members of the public feel more secure with the visible presence of a CSAS accredited officer, petty crime is down and individuals who may be considering anti-social activities tend to stay away.
However, we are all aware that achieving CSAS accreditation is not without its challenges. There can be wide variations in how the scheme is administrated at local level plus, the cost of submitting an application can be a financial barrier to many smaller manned guarding firms; leaving some companies unable to participate.
Yet, despite such challenges, where CSAS is in operation, it is making a difference.
For the police, the ability to have a local presence on the scene is also of benefit. Typically, attending to such low-level incidents can take upwards of an hour of policing time, taking in to account the time taken to reach the site and then retaining the individual.
All laudable reasons for participating of course, so why isn’t take up higher? Is it just down to the paperwork, the cost, or the fear of litigation on the part of the security firm? Is it because clients are unwilling to pay extra for such a service so it has to be funded out of the contract profits? Or is it because there is only about a 50% take up from the nation’s forces to participate in the scheme, limiting the number of opportunities available to the security industry?
Policing levels will continue to feel the squeeze for some time to come. At the same time, public safety must come first. It’s certainly an interesting time for the future of CSAS and I for one, will be watching with interest to see how the security industry chooses to shape its future – a future that now appears to lie beyond simply securing a building and its contents…