2014 Annual Review

Bobby Logue of Interconnective Ltd
Bobby Logue of Interconnective Ltd has once again increased the size of the table of security companies by turnover for 2014 from 25 to 30 companies.

Once again margin or the lack thereof, was the feature of commercial activity in the security services sector during 2014. There appears to be no cohesive approach as how to face this challenge. The simple panacea is to blame the procurement departments for the ills of the security services sector. Last week argued that this is the result of procurement led organizations squeezing margin from suppliers are in danger of placing their own organizations at risk. The commoditization of the security services has resulted in suppliers racing downhill has a further detrimental effect on the fabric of the security industry and erosion of margin has removed key ingredients of a professional security services. This erosion ranges from the lack of professional site surveys, to a reduction in operational management, to minimal basic training and low pay. Whilst a lack of margin is blight on our sector there are excellent examples where some client organizations are addressing these issues with their security services providers. In the UK, the telling statistic is that approximately 60% of license holders in the regulated security industry do not renew their Security Industry Authority (SIA) licenses.

The issue of margin creep in the security services sector throughout Europe has concerned trade bodies and related to the extent that they have issued this week a manual titled Buying Quality Private Security Services which is underwritten by the European Commission to encourage Best Value procurement throughout the EU.

Marc Pissens
Marc Pissens

“Choosing security services based on quality and not just price may sound obvious but it is not always the case as an increasing number of security services provided to public and private authorities are awarded solely on costs. This undermines all efforts to improve the quality of the services being provided. Choosing quality means reinforcing citizen’s trust in our services and our industry at large” said Marc Pissens, President of the Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS) which is the European umbrella organisation for 26 national private security employers’ associations.

The manual, drafted jointly by CoESS and UNI Europa, is an important update of the 1999 version. It emphasises the need to support the private security industry investments in improving the quality of their services and implementing high professional standards as well as providing fair working conditions and attracting new employees.

The authors of the Security Research Initiative Report, published in August 2012, which is arguably the largest survey of the security industry ever undertaken, Professor Martin Gill and Charlotte Howell of Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International (PRCI) Ltd, said that their findings will surprise many. Professor Gill told; “Security is facing a challenging time. The evidence suggests that security is not in a poor state, but there are issues that need to be addressed. The security sector needs to respond in a more co-ordinated way in highlighting with evidence what you get from a good security company that you don’t get from a bad one, and it needs to show how this can and is being achieved cost effectively.”

Professor Martin Gill
Professor Martin Gill believes that the Security Research Initiative Report highlights the reality that it is the responsibility of the industry to demonstrate that good security is provided though best value procurement as opposed to best price procurement. Since the release of the PRCI report we have seen no initiatives from the Security Industry to address this issue.

Another area that requires attention is structural reform to the regulated security industry. We often hear that the blame of the lack of progress in regard to Business Licensing lies at the door of the SIA. We believe this is incorrect and is solely due to the intransigence of the Government. We believe however that the SIA Approved Contractors Scheme has out worn its usefulness due to its approval system accepting inspection sores from 0 to 174. We believe this vast range of scores is confusing to most procurement teams resulting in their selection of a company with ACS accreditation regardless of the level of quality management offered.

There is an often quoted security industry phrase; “The provision of security services should be about how to secure a business and not how to man a business” Unless this philosophy is adopted will almost certainly be reporting once again on the woes of the security industry.