Simon Alderson – Knife Crime: How Can We Protect Our Officers, And The Public?

The Home Office has just announced a £4m funding boost to include investment in new knife detection technology to try to keep knife crime below pre-pandemic levels. However, police commander Stephen Clayman says that while the police are ‘tackling symptoms’, they do not have the ‘cure’.  Simon Alderson, CEO of First Response Group discusses Knife crime and how we can protect our officers.

 “Whilst the funding to tackle knife crime is clearly an important investment for the police, we should be mindful that it is our security officers who are increasingly on the front line of weapons-based crime and they need our support to protect them, and the public.”

According to the Office of National Statistics, some 50,489 knife crime offences were recorded in the year to March 2023. This is up from 48,204 in the previous 12 months but lower than the 54,293 recorded in the year to March 2020. With official stats showing a ‘noticeable increase’ in robberies involving a knife or sharp instrument, data like this leads to an inevitable conclusion that security guards are no doubt bearing the brunt of it.

Alderson added: “That is why now, more than ever, it is our duty as employers to ensure our teams are fully equipped in both a training and technological sense, to identify, assess the risk, and handle a weapons-based offence in the appropriate way, with safety as their number one priority.

“Even the most experienced security officer can fall victim to a weapons-based attack when faced with an unexpected situation. Preparing teams with specific weapons training could mean the difference between a situation escalating or being safely defused.

“The stats previously mentioned only cover knife crime and a weapon can, of course, be anything that is improvised to intimidate, threat or cause harm to a member of the public or our staff. Our teams have first-hand experience of items such as empty bottles, glasses, baseball bats, tools, and even everyday household scissors, being used to cause harm. Therefore, the actual figures are most likely higher.

“Training your staff in Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) Awareness and the SCaN programme will give your staff the skills they need to prepare them for dangerous situations. By investing in your teams, you are not only prioritising the health and wellbeing of your own people, but you are prioritising the safety of your client and their customers.

“It’s not just about training. Investing in technology such as body cameras, biometric technologies, communication devices, surveillance, GPS monitoring and electronic incident reports have all changed the way offences are identified and recorded.

“In the event of unexpected weapons-based activity, it is essential that teams can communicate effectively and record events. By giving your teams the best technology, you’re giving them an extra pair of hands or eyes to help manage a situation.

“At FRG we strive to do the best we can for our colleagues, with ‘people first’ as our priority and that is why we ensure our team have the best training and equipment required for the job. However, sadly until the root cause of knife and other weapons-based crime is addressed, we must be prepared for all eventualities.”