Bill Fox – Collateral damage?

Bill Fox of conflict management specialists Maybo
Bill Fox of conflict management specialists Maybo

Bill Fox of conflict management specialists Maybo explores how security guarding companies may be affected by mandatory training top up training for door supervisors.

Many security guarding companies will be confident they already have the proposed elements of SIA ‘Top up’ training covered, such as awareness of dealing with 14-18 year olds, terror threats and first aid. They will also provide physical intervention, the substantive training element, to a relevant level for certain roles and contract requirements.

Companies may feel therefore that they are caught in the collateral of this latest SIA intervention, driven largely by risks surrounding bars and clubs. There may be concerns that staff will end up receiving more training than they need and encouraged to get involved in activities that increase rather than reduce risk.

The details are not clear as to how Top up training will roll out but I will try and anticipate some of the challenges and some potential benefits that may result for the security industry as a whole.

This development has been on the cards for at least a couple of years and there is general agreement that door supervisors managing violence in bars and clubs and performing risk activities such as ejection and arrest need additional training in physical intervention.

Recent tragedies showed that despite pockets of good practice, clear employer guidance and duty of care, the majority of door supervisors remained untrained and regulator intervention was needed.

We must also not underestimate the risks within some events, retail and hospital settings where serious injuries to staff and the public occur, including restraint related deaths.

One of the quirks of licensing is that a large number of DS licence holders are not door supervisors in the conventional sense, they are security guards. Many security companies have focused on the door supervision pathway as this allowed them to deliver a single training programme and benefit from further operational flexibility etc.

The equation has now changed and many security companies will now consider switching a percentage of their personnel to the security guarding licence at point of renewal.

This will require companies to step back and re-evaluate their needs in this area, including an objective review of their policies, contracts, risks and training requirements. Done well, this process will in itself will make a real contribution to violence reduction, one of the more complex areas of health and safety to control.

Any such ‘taking stock’ needs to consider relatively recent employer guidance addressing violence reduction and physical intervention in the Retail and Healthcare sectors. These free, online guidance documents facilitated by Skills for Security are endorsed by the SIA, ACPO, BRC and the NHS, and Licensed Retail guidance is currently being updated by the SIA.

Few security companies will feel confident to stand up and say they have cracked violence risk management. Many have effective health and safety and training operations that address this area, yet each contract brings its challenges, whether working with an NHS Trust that has a labyrinth of policies and risks to navigate, or with retailers that differ in terms of loss prevention approaches and expectations of their security providers. There are also challenges surrounding monitoring and supervision to ensure force is being used as a last resort, and with refreshing and maintaining skills.

Some security officers will need no physical intervention, some will need skills to disengage but not to hold i.e. less than the SIA Unit 4 content, and others may need a higher level of restraint than Unit 4 provides.

I anticipate a run-in time of six months before Top up training is required i.e. post Olympics, possibly November. Larger security and event companies are already geared up and delivering the new Unit 4 in physical intervention to new entrants and there is established independent provision through awarding organisation centres for this training.

The change may create a headache or two, but the transition will be relatively straightforward for most well organised businesses. It will spur many companies to review their current risks and approaches to the prevention and management of violence, and that can’t be a bad thing.

The SIA, security businesses and their clients share a desire to reduce risk and training is a step in the right direction, but to achieve this we need to target a reduction in use of force/physical intervention, not just teach safer ways of doing it.

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