An exciting journey in security

Issue 7 2020 Editor's Choice

Errol Peace describes his 40-plus year career in the security industry as an “exceptionally exciting journey”.

Errol Peace.

Reading Errol Peace’s resume is a challenge as it contains a long list of qualifications and certifications he has obtained, some of which include MIS (SA), CFE (USA), MSyl (UK); AISM (INDIA); IIPS (NIGERIA): SAIOSH (SA), along with a number of high profile positions he has achieved in his more than 40 years in the security industry.

Fitting his decades dedicated to training and skills upliftment in the industry, today Errol is the MD of BTC Training (Africa), a training company that offers a variety of courses in security, business and health and safety management.

Errol describes his career as an “exceptionally exciting journey”. The journey began in the public sector in 1979 as an instructor at the Johannesburg Traffic and Security Department Academy. His first senior position in the private sector was as group loss control manager at Dion Stores in 1989 where he also developed and presented the Loss Control Managers and Officers course.

He soon moved into another retail position at OK Bazaars where he was appointed shrinkage auditor in 1990, developing the Shrinkage Awareness course for the company. In 1995 he was appointed as OK Bazaars’ loss control executive, having completed the Security Management course at UNISA in 1992, and he became a part time lecturer in Security Supervision and Security Management at Damelin’s Management School in Braamfontein in 1994.

In 1997 he became the group risk manager at OK Bazaars while also being accredited to present the Armed Robbery Survival Skills course from BTC Training – Australia. He was also accredited as a ‘train-the-trainer’ coach.

And that was all before this century started.

Career highlights

Covering the rest of Errol’s credentials would consume all of this article, so Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked him what his career highlights have been and for his insights on the current state of training in the security industry in South Africa. Below are a few notable events he recalls with fondness.

In preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Errol was asked to serve on the SGB Task Team to draft the Event Security Unit Standard for SAQA (the South African Qualifications Authority) in 2007. The following year he presented a paper on The Security Preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer at the IFSEC International conference in Birmingham, UK.

The year 2008 was a busy one for Errol as, apart from presenting at IFSEC, he was also appointed to the SGB Task Team in 2008 to draft the Armed Robbery Awareness Unit Standard for SAQA. At this time, Errol was a board member of SAIS (the South African Institute of Security) as well as a member of SASA (the South Africa Security Association). It was SASA that appointed him to serve on the working committee of the SABS Security Management Technical Committee. It was also in 2008 that he received SASSETA accreditation.

A fond memory for Errol was during his visit to IFSEC where he delivered the paper. After the presentation, the British Security Institute (BSI) took him and some other SAIS members (including the late Terry Scallan) to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium to discuss soccer security strategies with the UK police and stadium management. This was the start of a long reciprocal relationship between SAIS and the BSI, a relationship Errol has maintained to this day. A similar relationship was forged with the International Institute of Security and Safety Management (IISSM) in India and the International Institute of Professional Security (IIPS) in Nigeria.

In 2010 Errol was elected to chair SAIS. He says the institute was focused on being the training wing of the security industry in order to improve the skills and career options for the thousands of people working in the industry. He believes SAIS added tremendous value to its members and the industry, not to mention the international security institutes associated with SAIS for a number of years. He laments that it is a shadow of its former self today.

The training minefield

His belief in the need for and the ability of training to change the industry and the lives of those involved has not diminished. However, training in the security industry can be a complex minefield when navigating the various governing bodies, from SAQA to SASSETA though to PSIRA. The standardisation in the training arena SAIS was pushing for has not happened and with COVID-19, it will not happen for a long time.

The fact is, states Errol, that training is more important than ever. “What was important and relevant as little as five years ago is not applicable today and we need to ensure the industry as a whole moves forward with the times. It’s a matter of working smarter and not harder.”

As an example he would like to see the time taken for someone to be registered as a security professional to be reduced and for the process to be streamlined. “People are suffering right now because they want to be registered and get to work, but can’t because they can’t register due to the lengthy bureaucracy involved, which is worse in the COVID-19 era.”

He says he understands the limitations that we all work under in terms of COVID-19, but we have technology that can assist in making it all faster and easier, and less prone to errors.

All facets of the industry must adapt

There is a feeling that many companies are turning to security technology to reduce their reliance on people. While this may be true to a limited extent, these same companies will need people to manage the technology and work in control rooms managing the technology and the camera views remotely. “We therefore need to make sure we impart the skills necessary to give people who may be in line to lose their current jobs a new career path.”

Supporting this, Errol says he has seen a marked uptick in requests for CCTV training at BTC, and the same can be seen in other training organisations. Companies need to come to the party in terms of upskilling staff, and individuals who wish to make a career in security also need to examine what roles will be available in future and adapt their own skills as far as possible.

Another area in which the industry fails is taking advantage of the experience and skills of so many people who are willing and able to assist. This applies to the various regulatory bodies and government organisations as well. It is not unusual to see local companies and individuals offering services, information and expertise to organisations, only to be told the organisation is paying dollars to buy something similar from the USA – as if the USA can advise on dealing with the realities on the ground in South Africa.

“We have so many experts with years of security experience in SA, why are we not using them?” he asks.

Opportunities abound

There is no doubt that the South African economy is in serious trouble and negativity abounds. However, Errol says there are positives in the security industry and opportunities that can be grasped if we work together for the benefit of everyone.

Errol ends by repeating that he has had “an exceptionally exciting journey” in the security industry over the past 40-plus years, a journey he is still on today. From operating as a risk officer in the retail environment and initiating a forum where other risk officers could meet to discuss tactics and solutions to countering crime, through to 12 years as a part-time lecturer (where one of his students eventually ended up as a professor at UNISA), Errol has gained knowledge, experience and skills and met some exceptional people.

He also wants to give back to the industry and help ensure its successful future. “It is a privilege to be part of this dynamic industry, and I will be forever grateful for the privilege. It’s not a job, it’s a joy.”


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