In his first blog for 2013, John Briggs, operations director for First Security, looks back at what could be considered a tempestuous year for the industry and encourages us all to look forward to a new year with optimism and focus. John writes:
A huge setback
“The previous year has seen one of the biggest upsets in the security industry for decades dominate the news. The debacle surrounding security at the London 2012 Olympic Games was widely reported, giving rise to tough questions from the government about whether private firms should get involved with government contracts and ‘outsourced policing’.
“But, as the year drew to a close and having learned from our experiences, it seems that the industry appears to be repairing itself and is now entering 2013 with a renewed determination to provide safe, secure environments for all our customers.
“The challenges we have faced during the year haven’t all been about service failings and negative publicity. The country may be out of recession, but annual economic growth continues to be slow and somewhat less than was predicted in the Summer, at an estimated 0.4% decline over the year.
“This has resulted in UK companies keeping a close eye on costs, sometimes expecting the same level of security for a lower price, or compromising on safety as they decrease security levels to save money. In these stringent times companies seem more prepared to accept risk, rather than to have to pay someone else to remove or take that risk.
“Nevertheless, the forecast is for continuing, if a little slower than previously thought, recovery in 2013 and this should improve confidence amongst UK companies. Any shortfalls in margin should give us the focus to add value wherever we can and continue to offer excellent customer service.
Looking to 2013
“When regulations change this year, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) will hand over to some other body, this new body will be responsible for regulating the industry.
“Currently all operatives must be licensed, and companies can voluntarily join the ACS Approved Contractor Scheme. However the new regulation includes the obligation for all companies and individuals to be licensed, the costs of which are yet to be divulged, but are likely to have further negative margin implications.
“Currently companies have to pay £15 per person to be members of the ACS and something similar for the BSIA (British Security Industry Association), so if you have, say, 1000 guards, this really adds up.
“However, with proper regulation and by continuing to build value through delivering on promises, we’re well prepared to be able to take a small hit. Introducing stringent regulation can only bring us back into favour when tendering for future government contracts, and our standing within the private sector is strong and enduring.
“If any industry needs regulating it’s the security industry. The SIA has done a good job to date but increasing costs on a minute margin industry is having a huge impact. Yet there’s no reason not to believe that the benefits will outweigh the cost.
“We can be hopeful that a combination of an enhanced reputation and a continuing improvement in the country’s economic situation will be enough to make 2013 a much better year for us all.”
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