CSyP and D.SyRM – Signposts to the Future?

David Rubens, Managing Director of David Rubens Associates
David Rubens, Managing Director of David Rubens Associates

David Rubens, Managing Director of  security consultancy firm David Rubens Associates writes his thirteenth article exclusively for Infologue.com.

CSyP and D.SyRM – Signposts to the Future?

The perennial question on any security management course, whether vocational or academic, is “Is Security Management a ‘profession’”?  On 13th June I was at the ‘First Academic Conference on Teaching and Research in Disaster Risk Reduction & Resilience’, co-hosted by University College London’s Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, and ICPEM (Institute for Civil Protection and Emergency Management). One of the things that struck me then, and which I think many of us tend to forget, is just how many different activities are involved in risk management, especially when its focus goes beyond the daily routine of securing property and events, and moves into the higher realms of protecting the safety and well-being of our wider society. Whatever the specific role we are involved in, non-core issues such as terrorism, power failures, flooding, protests or industrial accidents leading to major environmental impact are all events over which we personally have little control, yet which could easily have significant impact on our operations. Any or all of them would require a highly managed response that is almost certainly outside of the basic skills that we have been trained for, and are in all likelihood events for which the organisations that  we are involved in have not adequately prepared.

In my opinion, the answer to the question concerning security management as a profession has to be ‘No, it is not’. There are various reasons why this is so, but the most obvious ones are that we don’t have a clearly defined ‘body of knowledge’ that is accepted as the common standard by which we should all operate, and there is no ‘qualification’ which gives us the recognition that is at the heart of a true profession, analogous to what is accepted as minimum professional standards in law, accountancy, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or engineering, each of which requires the completion of a recognised programme of study and the membership of a professional body in order to be able to be recognised as a practitioner of that field.

And yet at the same time, perhaps the most significant development in the security management field over the last ten years has been the professionalising of what was, – and actually, in many ways, still is – an old boys club based on previous police or military experience. Twice in the last week I have been introduced to someone working for a major global operation, who was being sent out as a ‘corporate consultant’, having no experience or training outside their police or  military careers. Whilst this would have been normal practice ten years ago, nowadays you are much more likely to find that serious practitioners who are interested in developing their careers are taking Masters degrees in security and risk management, and the argument over ‘What can an academic degree teach me?’, has been largely won or lost, depending on your own perspective.

Which brings me to the title of this column, which highlights two new developments, one in the practitioner sphere and one in the academic sphere, which I think will be come to be seen as significant in their own ways as the first MSc in Security and Risk Management was in a previous generation.

The Register of Chartered Security Professionals (CSyP) is designed to take its place as a genuine ‘Gold Standard’ professional qualification that recognises excellence in the security sector. As an award, it is ‘owned’ by the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals and administered by the Security Institute, and applications can be made through either the Security Institute or ASIS. The first Registrants, as they are known, were recognised in May 2011, and although there are still fewer than fifty CSyp’s on the Register, the quality of the professional standing of CSyP can be gauged by the names of the great and the good who have considered it worthwhile to go through the testing process of proving your bona fides (which is always a sign of a club that is worth joining….). The prerequisite for membership is that the applicant can show that they have five years operational experience, including at least two at Chartered level (for those with a security-related degree), or ten tears operational experience, including five years at Chartered level, for those without a degree.

An equally exciting development, and one which I have been peripherally involved in, is the establishment of a doctoral degree in Security and Risk Management (D.SyRM) degree at University of Portsmouth, which has been developed from the foundations laid by the security practitioners who have been working under the umbrella of the doctorate in Criminology and Justice programme. This is a Professional Doctorate (prof doc), offering doctorate (PhD) level research based on individual practitioner experience. One of the reasons that the specific D. SyRM programme was developed was to open up a pathway for all of the hundreds of people who have been through the various security-related MSc programmes, and after taking a break to recover from that, have thought about continuing their academic path. The programme is broken down into two separate sections, the first two years focussing on academic development, with set modules and regular study weekends in a format which will be familiar to anyone has been a distance-learner on the MSc programme, followed by two years to develop a research programme and write up the final thesis. For those of you who miss the thrill of late night reading, endless searching on Google scholar and the accumulation of hundreds of pieces of paper with scribbled notes and citations on them, then this could be for you!

Both the CSyP and the possibility of a doctorate level academic programme dedicated to security and risk management would have been almost unthinkable ten years ago. The fact they are not only here, but feel as though they are a natural part of the security environment, is perhaps a fair sign that the next generation of students who are faced with the question as to the status of the security ‘profession’ may well have to give more consideration to their answer than has been the case until now.

David Rubens has been involved in UK security consultancy for twenty years. He holds an MSc in Security and Risk Management (Leicester University), and is a Visiting Lecturer and Dissertation Supervisor on their Security, Terrorism and Policing MSc programme. He  was a Visiting Fellow at the Security and Resilience Department, Cranfield University, UK Defence Academy (2009-’10), and a Visiting Lecturer on their  Strategic Leadership programme, focusing on terrorism & public policy and the management of large-scale, multi-agency operations. He has written specialist reports for government agencies in Japan, Russia, Dubai, Nigeria, Liberia and the Caribbean, and is highly-regarded as a speaker on the international security circuit. He is currently on the Professional Doctorate programme at Portsmouth University Department of Criminology & Justice, where his research is concerned with the strategic management of security operations at the extremes of organisational complexity. He can be contacted at david@davidrubens-associates.com / www.davidrubens-associates.com

For more information on CSyP, please visit http://www.csyp-register.org , for more information on the D.SyRM please pm me at david@davidrubens-assocates.com, and please feel free to make any comments on this forum.