University of Portsmouth celebrates first awards of Professional Doctorate in Security Risk Management

Dr Mike Gilbert

The University of Portsmouth, one of the world’s leading providers of security risk management education, is celebrating the first two awards of its Professional Doctorate in Security Risk Management. Dr Mike Gilbert and Dr David Rubens CSyP FSyI were the recipients of the doctorate, which carries the post-nominals ‘DSyRM’.

The title of Mike’s thesis is: ‘Tackling fraud in UK central government: a review of the legal powers, skills and regulatory environment’. His study sought to establish whether UK central government organisations have the legal powers, skills and regulation needed to tackle fraud effectively. Drawing on a survey of central government counter fraud champions and an interview programme with a wider range of counter fraud professionals, his findings suggest that the effectiveness of central government civilian counter fraud teams is hampered by a fragmented legal landscape and a lack of skills, and that further professionalisation and regulation is needed to protect professional standards and individual legal rights.

Mike is a counter fraud consultant and CIPFA accountant who started his career with the National Audit Office, and for more than 20 years worked on their value for money and IT Audit Programmes. He then moved onto the Human Embryology and Fertility Authority as Head of Audit and delivered a large national audit project on their behalf. From 2007 he has worked as a counter fraud professional within central government undertaking all aspects of counter fraud work. In his role as a counter fraud specialist, Mike has worked as a forensic accountant with responsibility for designing counter fraud policies and strategies, providing fraud prevention advice and services to colleagues, the design and implementation of analytical procedures for detecting fraud, the creation of an investigations infrastructure, and the delivery of a number of internal and external fraud enquiries.

Dr David Rubens CSyP FSyI

David’s research is titled: ‘From “command and control” to “support and adapt”: developing a new paradigm for incident command systems, critical decision-making and 21st century crisis response’. The thesis considers how the nature of crises has changed radically in recent years, so that rather than being merely ‘major incidents’ or ‘routine emergencies’, they are now characterised by their hypercomplexity and the catastrophic impact of their cascading consequences. David argues that the centralised command systems that have traditionally been considered the bedrock of crisis response programmes are repeatedly failing to stand up to the challenges posed by this new class of crisis, and that it has become clear, following incidents such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, that new forms of non-hierarchical, decentralised decision-making and strategy-setting frameworks need to be developed. The thesis offers two alternative paradigms to the traditional understanding of ‘efficient’ crisis management, based on the concepts associated with organizational resilience, which would allow multi-agency operations to main their functionality in high-volatile crisis environments.

David has worked in numerous areas of security consultancy since 1992, and is Managing Director of Deltar Training Solutions Ltd, working at senior executive levels in multi-cultural environments across the world, bringing a mixture of operational experience, international consultancy, academic research and high-level international business development. He has been a visiting lecturer on the University of Portsmouth BSc in Risk and Security Management, the University of Leicester MSc in Security, Policing and Terrorism and the Cranfield University, Defence Academy Strategic Leadership programme at Cranfield University, specialising in terrorism and public policy, and strategic management of large-scale, complex operations. David has been a Board Director of the UK Security Institute from 2013 to 2014 and since 2015. He is also very active on the international conference circuit, having chaired major events in London, Dubai, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Lagos.

Dr Alison Wakefield, Course Leader said:

“We are delighted to congratulate Mike and David on their considerable achievements. The Professional Doctorate in Security Risk Management is designed to produce first class original research by professionals, for professionals, in order to enhance the evidence base within the security sector. The substantial research studies carried out by Mike and David provide important contributions to the development of security practice in the UK and are already attracting the interest of key stakeholders.”

The University of Portsmouth launched a Professional Doctorate in Criminal Justice (D.CrimJ) in 2007 with an initial cohort of seven students. Due to the growing popularity of the programme among security risk management practitioners and to provide them with a more tailored post-nominal, a specialist Security Risk Management (D.SyRM) pathway was introduced in 2014. Fifteen are registered on this pathway, and most are senior practitioners in the sector, some of whom are Chartered Security Professionals.

The emphasis of the programme is on developing researching professionals who are able to reflect on and contribute to practice in their areas of work through the generation of original knowledge. It takes approximately four years part-time and comprises four taught modules delivered through a series of two-day workshops, and a 40,000 to 50,000 word thesis. Entrants must have an MSc, work in a security environment, and be of sufficient seniority and experience to be in a position to undertake research that is relevant to their job, profession or organisation.

The DSyRM is among a suite of security risk management courses offered by the University, including:

  • BSc Risk and Security Management (part-time distance learning)
  • MSc Security Management (full-time/part-time)
  • MRes Security Management (full-time/part-time)

Recent comments on the D.SyRM by current students have included:

  • “I’m on this course at the moment and almost finished my first year. Brilliant course, excellently designed and a real eye-opener after my MSc – still so much to learn! The pace is perfect and the support from the team at Portsmouth is simply excellent.”
  • “Portsmouth is delivering a course that is having a profound effect on me and in my place of work.”

Further details of the programme can be seen at: