Much has been written about the activities of the emergency services during the recent riots but very little has been written about the thousands of private security officers who were thrust into the frontline successfully protecting their clients personnel and property, writes Infologue.com Editor, Bobby Logue. Writing exclusively for Infologue.com, the management team of Oltec Group (AFC) provided their thoughts on last weeks “crazy 72 hours”.
Late afternoon on Monday 8th August 2011, the Control Room operators of Oltec Group are scrutinising their data screens in their National Communication Centre. Hundreds of officers are starting to feed in that some disturbances are taking place in London and indeed, the BBC has just announced that some riots have started. One message reads: “23 males and 1 female are currently attempting to break into our Store. Staff door entrance damaged.” This was the beginning of the 72 eventful hours in which thousands of Oltec Group Security Officers became actively involved in containing looters and protecting staff, customers and retail stores across the UK.
“Our first decision was to cancel all leave for all Management Team and Officers across the UK”, commented Olivier Cavaliere, the Oltec Group Managing Director.
Oltec Group operates I-Com, their strategic integrated communication software which they developed over ten years. Oltec believes that I-com became an absolutely pivotal operating tool during the riots. “With I-com, all our Operations team are fed minute-by-minute of what is happening anywhere in the UK or Republic of Ireland, and together we can track Officers and Mobile Patrol teams, Contract Managers via smart phone technology/trackers allowing us to monitor availability and move resources at very short notice to any zone at risk. ” Added Ian Dustan, the Group IT Director.
Gordon Brady, the Oltec Group Operations Director liaised with all their major customers, especially the retail sector including stores and shopping centres in the Oltec customer portfolio. Gordon continued the story; “We redeployed in excess of 350 Officers in Croydon, Manchester and Birmingham alone just to contain looters and monitor potential incidents. At one particular location, not less than 8 attempts to break in to our clients premises took place in less than 2 hours at the high of the trouble. ”
“In the main, some Oltec Group client’s locations suffered some low level damages but they are delighted to report that none of their Client Staff and their own staff team suffered injuries. We took particular care in ensuring that our Client Staff could get away from the trouble without being harmed as well as our own staff!” commented Lisa Knowles, Group HR and Safety Manager
Concluding the article, Oltec Group Chief Executive Olivier Cavaliere summed up recent activities including the overall lack of acknowledgement of the massive contribution made by the private security industry during the riots. “When a premises is attacked by 100+ rioters and where the police could not contain the disturbances, then it would be impossible for any Security companies to stop them from entering any premises.We received praise from several of our largest customers for the way we responded at very short notice, protecting their staff and premises during the riots. I am obviously delighted that they took the time to thank us already when I am sure our Clients have had their own issues to address first during these difficult times. Little was mentioned of the tens of thousands of Security Officers working during the Riots who put their lives potentially at risk and I would like to lead a tribute to them for their professionalism and dedication.
Lessons should be learnt from what happened recently and if any, the Government, The Police and the Private Security Industry should be working far more closely together in ensuring than combined public and private sector resources are being deployed when these sort of troubles are taking place. It should not just be left to the Police or at a last resort, the Army to be deployed. After all, Security officers have a valid Security Industry Licence which should give the authority that Private Security Officers have the experience to operate at least to the Standard of Special Constables and they should be a useful additional trained resource which should not be ignored as and when required.”