Chairman reports dynamic year for Security Institute

Security Institute Chairman Mike Bluestone reported an excellent year of progress for the organisation at its Annual General Meeting in London on 4th March. With Security Institute President Lord Carlile QC in attendance, plus many of the directors and members of the organisation, Mike delivered his report which included twelve new initiatives for the organisation, including the growth of its admin team and launch of student membership, the mentoring programme and system for continuous professional development.

Later in the afternoon, the election of Directors saw Mike Bluestone, David Gill and Emma Shaw being returned for a second term in office, plus Mike O’Neill, Jerry Woods and Simon Dilloway joining the Board as elected directors. The AGM was followed by a number of presentations, including an update on Counter-Terrorism from DCI Richard Jack (City of London Police), the security challenge of the 2010 World Cup (South African Institute of Security), professional personal development, Institute qualifications, Institute recruitment and retention, and the Royal Charter process. The afternoon meeting was followed by the Annual Dinner celebration, attended by 75 members and guests, and sponsored by IFSEC.

Chairman’s Report

“I would like to firstly express my gratitude to Lord Alex for taking time out of his pressured diary to chair this meeting. Your support Lord Alex is truly invaluable, and in you this Institute has found a great and loyal friend and supporter. I would also like to express a special welcome to some friends of this Institute who have travelled a long way to be with us today. Terry Scallan is Chairman of the Board of the South African Institute of Security and a SyI Fellow, while Steve Conradie is the Chairman of the South African SIA. We also have with us one of our newest Fellows, Rinus Meelis and Member Henk Neddermeijer who have flown in from the Netherlands for this meeting. A special thank you too to our amazing and truly dedicated Head Office Team, led by our human dynamo, Di Thomas, who is supported by Paula Stanbridge, Carly Huckle and since Monday Karen Newman, all of whom work so hard for the membership on a daily basis, and who have worked especially hard to arrange and plan this meeting, as well as this evening’s dinner.  I also take this opportunity to publically acknowledge the major contribution made to the life of this Institute by my equally hard working and dedicated fellow Board directors, several of whom are here today, including my loyal Vice Chairman for Business, David Gill. I thank you all. A special ‘thank you’ to my co-director, and SyI Company Secretary, Nigel Churton for his efficient handling of the formal part of today’s AGM. I thank all of you, our fantastic membership, who volunteer your time over and over again, for our unique and much admired Validation Board, led by Emma Shaw; the members of our Academic Board, led by Mark Button, and the many working/focus groups whose individual and collective contribution to the daily life of this Institute has made SyI the envy of other professional bodies. Thank you all, and thank you for being here today!”

“I don’t mind admitting that my pride at being elected to the Chair of your Institute just under twelve months just ago, was coupled with some trepidation. I felt an enormous sense of responsibility in becoming the leader of this great Institute, a task which had been carried out and managed so effectively by my immediate predecessor Bill Wyllie, and by Geoff Whitfield before him. At this point, I wish to acknowledge the vision, enterprise and commitment of that group of security practitioners who were the founders of this Institute eleven years ago. Without their foresight, and their boldness, this Institute would simply not exist.  I am proud to have been an early ‘convert’ to SyI and to have been admitted back in 2000 as member Number 20! I remember the wise but not so old Bill Wyllie saying to me upon my appointment, that if during my term in office I continued to do everything the way he had done, or did everything that he agreed with, then there would be no point in change. He was of course right.  Change can be a positive thing, and so your new Board set about creating a new strategy, new objectives and new challenges. One of my first moves on becoming Chairman was to take a fresh look at the way the Board was structured. I concluded that as in any other business or organisation, our directors needed to be focussed on specific tasks and areas of responsibility. I decided therefore to devolve to each director a specific portfolio, thereby empowering them to get on with their roles, and maintaining overall control over their specialist areas. The changes have also led to the doubling of our hard-working admin team to deal with this significant increase in workload. It is no secret that included within the new Board’s objectives were both growing the membership, and enhancing the value of membership.”

So what have we all achieved together, over the past twelve months? How far have we come?

“Taking firstly, the growth in membership, we have maintained our membership at just on 1,000 and most importantly, the rate of new applications is now around 20 most months. No easy achievement, especially during a severe economic recession. Especially satisfying, has been the launch of the Student membership programme, which has seen recruitment to the Institute of 18 new student members. The fact that young people are aspiring to make professional security practice a career of first choice, and are choosing the Institute as their professional ‘home’, must be a good thing for all of us. We are hopeful that the “Bridging the Gap” initiative, the Steering Group of which is chaired by Institute Director David Greer, may also encourage college tutors and graduates to join. Closely allied to the student membership programme, is the SyI Wilf Knight Award, which was launched last year and saw the first recipient, SyI member Danie Adendorff, receive his award at the prestigious Security Excellence Awards. Also helping to attract new student members is the ongoing success of our Mentoring programme. This programme is not just for newcomers to the security sector, and several mature members are successfully taking advantage of this valuable member benefit. This past year has also seen our SyI Diploma and Certificate programmes, delivered by Perpetuity Training, achieve BTEC accreditation respectively with Edexcel at levels 5 and 3, something which we can all be very proud of. The development of both qualifications to be assessment based opens the door to many more possibilities, which will be an exciting time in 2010. We also saw the launch of our new Master Class programme, where delegates can make a detailed study of particular aspects of security. The first one last week focussed on security around mass gatherings and events, and the team of Institute members at NaCTSO will be presenting the next one at the Victory Services Club later this month.”

“We have also been keen supporters of Professor Martin Gill’s SRI initiative, and significantly, it was at a SyI event last year, that Martin launched the new Strategy Tool Kit. We will be continuing our support for this superb initiative this year.  Your new Board also resolved to become more deeply engaged with other industry and sector wide bodies, in combined efforts to help raise standards in security. In this regard, we have taken part in a number of high level initiatives with the SIA, the BSIA, SASIG, and Skills for Security. These initiatives have included taking part in seminars and conferences, and debating topics such as regulation as we did at last September’s SyI two-day conference. Only last month, we hosted Bill Muskin of the BSIA and Andrew Shephard of the SIA at a Members’ evening, when a passionate debate took place about the merits of the BSIA’s initiative to create new benchmarks in the guarding sector, which go beyond the voluntary ACS programme.   Let me make it very clear that your Board will not shy away from controversial and difficult topics. How can we? We represent an eclectic membership many of whom, for example, are themselves owners or senior managers of guarding companies or consultancies.  We will engage with the Regulator and with HMG, but we will not tow any party line, and I call upon members to keep contacting me whenever a matter close to your hearts pops up, and you feel that SyI could present your views to the Regulator or whoever. If we are convinced by your case, then we will lobby for you. Our relationship with the SIA is an open, honest and friendly one, but we will speak up when we think that decisions are working against the best interests of the profession, or indeed the public at large.  We have also continued to build upon the excellent relationships with the organisers of IFSEC and Counter-Terror Expo, and this April’s Counter-Terror Expo will see several Board members take part in chairing sessions at that important event. We are also grateful to both organisations for their generous sponsorship of SyI events.”

“Indeed, let me take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors over the past twelve months for their generous sponsorship. They are too numerous to mention them all now, but to all of our sponsors I say that your support is invaluable, and we salute you all!  The convening of interesting and varied members events has been another feature of the past twelve months. From a packed diary of over 2 dozen events, memorable ones include last September’s key educational event, namely our two-day annual conference at Bucks New University, Great Missenden. How can we forget either, our inaugural Remembrance Lecture held at Nomura Bank at which Brigadier Ed Butler delivered such a poignant and moving talk on the heroic work of our armed forces in Afghanistan. Let us also acknowledge the several and growing number of regional events held last year in Bristol, Coventry, Leicester, Belfast and Glasgow. I also have fond memories of an evening event at the height of the British Summer at the Railway Tavern in the City of London, at which over 60 members braved a very rainy evening to hear our friend Ian Mansfield of City Police speak about Project Griffin 2. We may meet in local hostelries and ‘watering holes’, but our members events are not just networking or social events, as you would have noted from last year’s diary. Indeed, I see no problem at all in members enjoying themselves too!   Now these events don’t just happen, and I want to pay tribute to all of our members who volunteer their time to arrange events supported as always by Di and Carly. Well done to you all! Please also note in your diaries, a dedicated SyI Presentation Day scheduled for the 22 June 2010, when we will have the pleasure of presenting the George van Schwalkwyk and John Aplin awards, and also our awards to our successful qualification students. The second Wilf Knight Award, will be presented at this year’s Security Excellence Awards ceremony.”

“Another key initiative that has come to fruition is our CPD programme, which has commenced with a purely voluntary pilot programme, with expectations of it becoming mandatory at some future stage. CPD is an essential part of any serious professional Institute, and as the member also of a legal professional Institute, I can vouch for the fact that CPD is a normal expected requirement of professional life. CPD will also be a pre-requisite for obtaining chartered status. I urge members to embrace CPD. Please do not fear it. We are all engaging on a daily basis in activities of various kinds, which enable every one of us to satisfy CPD requirements. I commend co-director Maria Cox and GM, Di Thomas, for their joint efforts in building this excellent and professional programme. Of course, we are human, and not everything that we planned has happened on time. The launch of our new series of Good Practice Guides, now being driven by Jerry Woods, has been slightly delayed, with the first one going to print in April. Members can be assured though, that this year will see the launch of at least two or possibly three new GPGs . Last year also saw the launch of our free legal advice line, in cooperation with leading law firm, Brachers. We are most grateful to Brachers for their support and commitment to the Institute. Also launched last year, was our first Information Security Group led by co-director Azeem Aleem of Portsmouth University. We look forward to hearing positive outcomes from this important initiative. And if all of this wasn’t enough, your Board established last Autumn a Chartered Status Steering Group to research and ultimately implement our long held aspiration and goal of achieving Chartered Status for this Institute.  This is not an easy thing to make happen. It is a complex process, and there are some hurdles to overcome, but we are confident. I can also assure you all that no application will be submitted the Privy Council without a majority vote of support from the membership. We are blessed with having the expert guidance of a leading authority on such matters in the form of Keith Lawrey of the Foundation of Science and Technology, and we enjoy the fraternal support of our friends and colleagues in the WCoSP. Here I want to pause and pay tribute to SyI Fellow, Peter French MBE, who has been quietly helping us behind the scenes with this project, and sharing with us the experiences which enabled the WCoSP to achieve their own distinct charter as a City livery company. And wasn’t it great to see Peter receive the MBE last year for his sterling efforts over many years in his work with the police and Crimestoppers? All in all ladies and gentlemen, we have kick-stared during the past twelve months, twelve new initiatives!”

“Finally, ladies and gentlemen, a word about the International scene. The international dimension of this Institute is important to us. This is of course evidenced by our close cooperation with the SAIS, and Terry’s presence here today. In addition, to our cooperation with our South African friends, we have a opened up a dialogue with local security practitioners in India, and in recent weeks we have been approached by the Australasian Security Institute to explore areas of common interest and concern. We also continue our cooperation with the Caribbean Institute of Security, whose Chairman, Clairmont Featherstone has recently applied for membership of SyI. As for the remainder of this year, we remain committed to consolidating and developing all of the initiatives which I have highlighted today, and with particular emphasis and effort on advancing our proposed application for a Royal Charter. As to the future, allow me to vent my own thoughts on the road ahead: You know, this really is a time for strong nerves. As an Institute, we have exploited the economic recession, and expanded, and whilst we are not yet cash rich, our finances are sound. Our reputation is good and growing, and most importantly, we are listened to, which means that every one of your own opinions and concerns has a value and can also be listened to. But you have to tell us, and share your thoughts with us. We will always work hard to fly your flag on an issue of concern, but we need be made aware of your concerns. We may not always be able to help, but we will try our best. This is your Institute!   As for the Security World which we all inhabit, it is changing. Regulation and the economic downturn have led to greater consolidation of security companies, in all sectors of the industry. There will be fewer security companies – in all branches of security – but those that remain will be more professional. The buying public, your clients, your customers, your end users, call them what you will, are all demanding increased professionalism, and higher standards. They don’t always want to pay for it, but they demand it nevertheless! Terrorism, single-issue extremism, and crime are the catalysts for that. More and more people are turning to the private security world to help keep them safe and secure.”

“My friends, this is a call to arms. This is the moment for the professional arm of the security sector to grasp the nettle and say to the world: ‘We are professionals, we are as professional as your other professional advisers, your lawyers, your accountants, your surveyors, or whoever. We do study our subject matter. We do engage in continuing learning and development. We practice CPD. We continue to train. Security is not some hazy ‘wishy washy’ art . We truly are professionals!’It is my fervent belief that we are now on the threshold of a major breakthrough in recognition of our collective skills, knowledge and experience. By achieving chartered status for this Institute, we would have proved that recognition beyond doubt. I call upon each and every one of you here today, and indeed upon every member of this great Institute to get behind your Board, help us to achieve chartered status, help us to raise funds, help us grow the membership, help us make a difference. We know that you are there for the Institute – and we are here for you.”

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