Private security industry warns on the dangers of selecting security solely on price

Marc Pissens
Marc Pissens

The ever decreasing margins in the security services sector is a challenge being faced by most European countries. This trend which effectively is racing downhill has a detrimental effect on the fabric of the security industry throughout Europe. Paradoxically, it is procurement led organisations, squeezing margin from suppliers are in danger of putting their organisations at risk. In the UK, the telling statistic is that approximately 60% of licence holders in the regulated security industry do not renew their licences, writes publisher, Bobby Logue.

As a result, Europe’s social partners for private security services, the Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS) and UNI Europa recently published an updated edition of their “Best Value Manual” with the support of the European Commission. The manual aims to assist procuring organisations when selecting a private security provider to carry out security functions. By identifying key do’s and don’ts, those using this manual will be able to combine quality with a favourable price, rather than just settling for the lowest price bidder.

“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 CoESS.

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 systematic approach of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder has a harmful and detrimental impact on the various industries and workers concerned,” explained Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa’s Regional Secretary. “Choosing security services only base on price sends the wrong message and indirectly supports poor professional standards which are very damaging for the industry and its employees who can easily become dissatisfied”.

The manual was launched recently at CoESS-UNI Europa workshop, with speakers from the European Commission and representatives from the security services sector as well as trade unions. The new EU legislation about public procurement (Public Procurement Directive 2014/24/EU) was also the focus of the discussions.

CoESS and UNI Europa urged their members to support the full application of the EU legislation and underlined that bidders which did not fully abide by the established obligations, or were in breach of payment of taxes or social security contributions should systematically be excluded.

Finally, in order to ensure that the criteria of most economically advantageous tender (MEAT) was effectively applied; quality should be explicitly mentioned as the main criteria for awarding private security contract. The updated “Best Value manual” could prove quite useful to help making a decision.

About CoESS: Founded in 1989, the Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS) is the European umbrella organisation for 26 national private security employers’ associations. CoESS represents 19 EU Member States and a total of 24 countries, which translates into some 60,000 private security companies employing a total of 2.2 million private security employees. The European private security services industry generates a yearly turnover of approximately € 34.2 billion Euros.

About UNI Europa: UNI Europa is a European federation which unites national trade unions in 50 different countries. With 320 affiliated trade union organisations, UNI Europa represents 7 million workers in key service sectors vital to the welfare of European citizens. UNI Europa is part of UNI Global Union whose headquarters are in Nyon (Switzerland). UNI Europa is based in Brussels.

CoESS Website

UNI Europa Website

Download the manual “Buying quality private security services” (PDF)