10 Mar A Career in Specialist Security – Is it Actually Possible?
“When you’re out of quality, you’re out of business”.
~ Phil Crosby
This month sees me beginning my 19th year as Director of Security for a leading businessman.
They say ‘There is no security in security’ and to some extent this can be true. So, how can it be possible to form a longstanding and rewarding career in a specialism that you enjoy?
Many in this day and age expect everything yesterday and for the minimum of effort. I’m not entirely sure what the reason for this is. Maybe it is a generation thing or a cultural one, who knows? The one thing I am sure of, is that if you want to progress professionally with longevity in a profession you enjoy doing then not only a little work is involved – a lot of work is involved.
Protective Security is an all encompassing subject matter with overlapping specialisms in their own right. From Surveillance to Penetration Testing to Clandestine Blue Chip Investigations to Close Protection and the several differing methods in which it can be deployed are specialist areas that require in-depth training, experience and exposure to become competent operators/ operatives. Industry regulator’s such as the Security Industry Authority deliver a narrative that CP is much like Key Holding or Door Supervision. Security services that can be delivered from a 139 hour course where the instructors may only have 3 years of experience themselves who can deliver a course with a 1:10 instructor to student ratio.
Throughout the 15 years since the imposition of the SIA’s tokenism to this specialism, I have been an untiring advocate of raising standards to a proper fit for purpose level. Why? Because the end user, the Principal has a dire need to be assured that the service he/ she expects is the service he/ she receives. That the concern’s the Principal’s have and the subsequent reasons for their security requirement are such that they do not want to roll the dice on individuals who are learning how to do the job, on-the-job. They do not want to roll the dice on the service provider delivering their service who incorporated their company on the back of a 2-week course and now provide advice and guidance in specialist security subject matter. Principals want their security to be fit for purpose. To be able to mitigate and control those risks to which they feel, and in some cases evidently are, vulnerable to. They want to ensure that the individuals that look after them or their wife, partner or their children will be able to detect, identify and ‘proactively react’ to assessed threats, to be able to formulate protective operational plans and execute them effectively, smoothly and without fanfare or problem. They want to ensure that their security staff are diligent, constantly striving to better the situation whatever that may be, to tweak and perfect the security solution to the highest of standards.
The industry as a whole supports the assessment that the current training practise of Close Protection is unfit for purpose but instead of delivering training courses that meet the requirements of the workplace, they fall to the lowest level. This is not necessarily their fault. It is market forces that dictate that if a minimum level of training provides a UK government recognised license to work on the streets of the UK then to increase content and duration and the subsequent knock-on effects of increased cost, reduced footfall through cost and time on course, it remains cutting off your nose despite your face. This is the commercial market where cash is king – not standards.
Training is the foundation on which to progress from. If training is poor then so too will be that progression. The industry, at the behest of the regulator, does not see the solution is to remedy the initial training but sees additional training thereafter as the fixer to the problem. Courses are cash and cash is king. Boys clubs in the form of institutes and the multitude of organisations where post nominals can be bought through an annual membership subscription are seen as a route to improve, to progress, to become part of the pack. After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know – right?
It is a shame that the word ‘acceptability’ is a common one in industry. Accepting that this is our lot in life; that these are the standards as dictated, nothing we can do, accept them and move on. Excusing the current format on “It’s only a starting point” or “you learn on the job” are simply UN-acceptable. If we are all in agreement that Close Protection, and indeed other related subject matter such as Surveillance, are indeed specialisms then we must also all agree that a proper fit for purpose approach to training and operational performance is integral to the end result for any client. I am so disappointed when individuals who should know better due to their own past government training and experience, fall to the effect of commercial market forces. To be ‘in with the crowd’ of party line approach of the various, to not rock the boat but to selfishly maximise their own job stability. Standards first? Sadly, not.
Progression in the security industry can be a competitive business for many. Yet, it doesn’t have to be. Understand the shortfalls and the pitfalls to poor training, the ‘clubs’ and the general lethargy of the industry to raise standards. Don’t attend the many short courses as a means to gain club point tokens for your CV but strive to gain experience long term within a fewer number of specialist areas. Become proficient at them and be able to communicate that proficiency intellectually to your clients – at Board level. Constantly self-critique after each day, week, month, operation or project. Identify weaknesses, issues or mistakes that should not have occurred or should/ could have been better. By constantly striving to perfect your service, it will be recognised.
Don’t fall foul of market forces. Your clients will not appreciate it. Your performance will not appreciate it and the prospects of longevity in any job will most certainly not appreciate it.
Director of Operations
Mobius International UK Ltd &
Mobius International Ltd
Mobius International UK Ltd Close Protection Operators/ Bodyguards are all former specialist government protection unit having served as Personal Protection Officers to the British Royal Family, UK Prime Minister and other ministers, British Ambassadors and Senior Military Command Staff together with the provision of protection to specific persons of a targeted threat. In effect, we have re-written the commercial/ private sector approach by the delivery of the highest standards in Close Protection. By solely using former government CP trained operators, our level of service is unsurpassed.